There are a few items you probably have in your kitchen that can do the job!

By Omenaa Boakye
May 18, 2021 @ 5:44 pm
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The mouth is filled with a whole bunch of bacteria — both good and bad. But complex and organized communities called biofilm can develop if the bacteria is left undisturbed.

"Staining and discoloration occur when the mouth's natural biofilm is in a state of imbalance," says Dr. Gerry Curatola, founder and director of Rejuvenation Dentistry. "When this occurs, a thick, sticky, smelly, film forms over the surfaces of the teeth, providing a perfect environment for attracting stains and discoloration from tea, coffee, smoking and many highly pigmented foods."

A key component of good oral hygiene and white teeth is consistent biofilm removal. This involves brushing the teeth twice a day to remove bacteria from the tooth surface, and flossing between the teeth to reach any remaining residue.

"When the oral microbiome is in balance, we call this homeostasis — it is a thin clear odorless film that actually protects and remineralizes the teeth, this helps the teeth become stronger and prevents staining, which makes the teeth appear whiter," says Dr. Curatola.

Brushing aside, most folks always want a crisp, white smile. However, traditional white strips can make teeth and gums ultra-sensitive, and there's a reason for that.

"Whitening strips you have in the States are illegal in Europe because they contain such high active ingredients," Dr. Lisa Creaven, dentist and co-founder of Spotlight Oral Care explains. "[Plus,] The lining of your mouth is 50 times as absorbent as the skin."

That said, along with the fact that everyone seems to be steering more and more towards clean beauty, we couldn't help but wonder (not to sound like Carrie Bradshaw or anything) if there were any natural or plant-based solutions for teeth whitening?

"Some natural teeth whitening methods can be abrasive and damaging to tooth enamel, so I always tell my patients that the most natural way (and my favorite way) to whiten teeth is to make peace with the microbes living in your mouth," says Dr. Curatola, who developed a natural, pro-microbiome nutritional and prebiotic toothpaste, which does just that. "I developed Revitin which is made with natural nutrients, containing key vitamins and essential enzymes which whiten the teeth naturally, while supporting a balanced oral microbiome."

However, there are a few products you may have at home that can assist in naturally whitening your teeth. Just make sure that before you take the plunge, you check in with your dentist to avoid a potential dental disaster.

VIDEO: 5 Affordable Ways to Whiten Your Teeth at Home

Oil Pulling

Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that helps whiten teeth and improve oral hygiene. This method has been used in India and Southern Asia for thousands of years as part of the holistic Ayuvedic belief that it purifies the mouth and body. The procedure reduces harmful bacteria by dissolving it into the oil.

It's best to use coconut oil for this technique as it is rich in antimicrobials [which help fight bacteria] and it's one of the best natural sources of lauric acid. In fact, a 2016 study published in the Journal of International Society of Preventive and Community Dentistry found that using coconut oil for this method reduced the production of Streptococcus mutans a.k.a. the bacteria that causes tooth decay.

If you're going to give it a try, it's best to do oil pulling in the morning, on an empty stomach, and before brushing your teeth. Simply start by putting a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth, swish it around for 15 to 20 minutes, then spit it out. Finish off by brushing your teeth, as you would normally. Your jaw might get a bit tired from swishing, but your teeth will thank you.

Strawberries

Yes, you read the title correctly. As bizarre as it might sound, these sweet red fruits have plenty of benefits — aside from being delicious. Strawberries contain malic acid, a natural whitening agent that helps to lift surface stains from the teeth. 

To test it out, puree one strawberry, add ½ teaspoon of baking soda, and mix well. Dip your toothbrush into the mixture, and coat your teeth with it. Let the mixture sit on your teeth for about five minutes before rinsing off. Make sure to get all of the mixture off of your teeth and use floss to remove any seeds or other remnants.  Finish off by brushing your teeth with regular toothpaste. It's advised to only use this method once every few weeks, as the citric acid in the fruit can break down your tooth enamel, if used too frequently.

Baking Soda

Baking soda isn't just great for making fluffy pancakes, its abrasive nature also helps remove plaque build-up on teeth. Plus it contains alkaline powder, which effectively removes stains.

To give it a whirl, mix one teaspoon of baking soda with two teaspoons of water and brush your teeth with the paste. Rinse it off, and finish by brushing your teeth with your regular toothpaste. It's recommended to use this paste once a week — overuse can scratch the tooth enamel and result in teeth sensitivity.

From non-toxic makeup and skincare to sustainability practices, Clean Slate is an exploration of all things in the green beauty space.