We all want a brilliant, white smile, but there are some pretty outrageous claims out there about how to whiten your teeth without a trip to the dentist.
After a bit of research, there are three effective home whitening remedies that I would recommend, but I have also outlined a number of questionable methods.
3 Effective Home Remedies to Whiten Your Teeth
Above all, the 3 remedies below are safe.
Some people mix baking soda with some water to form their own simple paste, but you can also sprinkle some on top of your regular smearing of toothpaste once a day.
Citrus Essential Oils
Citrus peels are high in limonene which can help lighten stained teeth, and tangerine, grapefruit, and orange essential oil contain over 91% limonene.
A single drop of any citrus essential oil on your blob of toothpaste is one method, otherwise, you can combine it with the other two home remedies listed here.
Most commonly done with coconut oil, it’s a matter of sucking and pulling a tablespoon of oil through the gaps in your teeth for a few minutes each day.
Many vegetable oils are anti-microbial so can reduce plaque-causing bacteria which blemish your teeth.
Home Remedies to Whiten Your Teeth – Limited Research
The following remedies have some conflicting evidence around them and the research is somewhat limited in size and scope.
All of the research I have found testing strawberry puree for teeth whitening were lab tests that were either inapplicable in the real world or poorly designed. In one study, results showed that brushing with a mixture of pureed strawberries and baking soda for 5 minutes had a minimal whitening effect, equal to thorough brushing with either water or 1% citric acid; but this whitening may have only been due to the baking soda, not the strawberry.
On the other hand, another study showed that soaking the tooth in pure strawberry puree (for an unrealistic 1 – 3 hours!) did produce a slightly whiter tooth, most likely due to the combination of malic acid and ellagic acid, but its effects on enamel wasn’t measured.
The theory is that as a super absorbent substance, the activated charcoal may absorb stains from the surface of your teeth.
Kiwifruit contains a compound called actinidin which can remove the biofilm on your teeth to whiten them. But just like strawberries and pineapples, it is questionable whether there is enough of the active compound in kiwi puree to lighten your teeth, and debatable as to whether this acidic fruit actually benefits your teeth long-term.
Home Remedies to Avoid
The following home whitening remedies are commonly found online, but you should definitely re-consider using them since they are either unsafe, ineffective, or both…
If there is a chemical that will definitely whiten your teeth, then it’s hydrogen peroxide, but when used regularly, it can erode the enamel of the tooth and cause sensitivity via deproteinization and demineralization. Most commercial whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide, but combine them with conditioners, de-sensitizers, and other bleaching agents (such as limonene and carbamide peroxide) to minimize any damage to your gums and enamel.
This is why it’s not recommended to make home tooth whitening remedies that contain hydrogen peroxide.
While vinegar will whiten your teeth, its high acidity makes it unsuitable as a long-term tooth whitening remedy, especially white vinegar. Studies have found it softens the enamel.
Most of the studies show that apple juice is a poor tooth whitener, probably due to the very low concentrations of ellagic acid.
The white latex in fig trees contains ficin or ficain, which has some teeth whitening abilities.
But pure fig latex can be a skin irritant, especially on the sensitive mucus membrane in your mouth, so don’t go rubbing it around your gums.
The latex found in unripe papaya fruit contains 25% papain (a compound that whitens teeth), but rubbing some papaya latex on your teeth is definitely unsafe; the pure latex will blister your lips and gums.
When produced commercially, the latex is mixed with potassium metabisulphate, dried, and then further processed and purified to extract the papain for safe use.
To conclude, baking soda, citrus essential oils, or oil pulling will never whiten your teeth as quickly and obviously as commercial products, but over time, your gums, teeth, and mouth will be healthier cleaner, and whiter.