When discussing teeth whitening options It's important to understand that there is a difference between CHEMICAL teeth whitening and MECHANICAL teeth whitening. Chemical teeth whitening is using chemicals to remove INTRINSIC stains and mechanical teeth whitening uses abrasives added to toothpaste to remove EXTRINSIC stains.
Intrinsic discoloration means stain within the actual tooth structure. It can happen from medication use, childhood illness, tooth trauma or aging and is best treated with CHEMICAL teeth whitening. Most chemical tooth whiteners use one of two chemical agents: carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide(the stuff used to bleach your hair)
Extrinsic discoloration is what most of us experience and is caused by things that stain the teeth like foods with dyes, coffee, tea, red wine, and smoking. These kinds of stains are best treated with MECHANICAL teeth whitening.
Now that we have a better understanding of how teeth whitening actually works....let's talk about the best natural teeth whitening options free from all the harsh chemicals often found in over the counter products.
Is it possible to whiten your teeth naturally without gels or bleaches?
Yes, it is. The secret is to find the best whitening agent to remove the stains without removing the enamel because as the enamel thins, the teeth become more yellow. Choosing the wrong product can actually make your teeth darker over time.
How effective can whitening your teeth naturally be?
The right whitening toothpaste can provide a noticeable difference if used regularly. You can expect to see one to two shades brighter with regular and consistent use.
I would assume that if you are whitening your teeth with natural methods, the process takes a bit longer than if you did an at-home kit or got a procedure at a dental office. What can someone expect in terms of timing?
One should expect to see results within 3 weeks' time. If you want to fast track the process you can visit your dentist and get a professional cleaning first for the more stubborn stains. When that is completed, maintain the color with a good whitening toothpaste that is abrasive enough to remove stains but not so abrasive that it wears down the enamel.
What are some natural methods you recommend?
Bentonite Clay as an alternative to baking soda- Bentonite clay is abrasive enough to remove the plaque but not so much so that it will do damage to your enamel. It can also help raise the pH of your mouth, making it more challenging for bacteria to grow.
Oil Pulling- It is a safe and natural way to remove some of these extrinsic stains. The natural oil offers natural benefits that won't increase sensitivity. Plus, it aids in the removal of plaque and improves gum health, which in return make enamel appear whiter.
Banana Peels- I know it seems crazy, but it has been shown to work. The abrasiveness of the peel can be used to remove surface stains without damaging the teeth.
Are there any natural methods out there that are myths, or don't work at all?
It's not so much that they are myths because they actually do work to whiten the teeth, but they do more harm than good. Some of the most popular natural teeth whitening products out there are ACTIVATED CHARCOAL and BAKING SODA. Both of these products work great to remove stains from the teeth but they are extremely abrasive and can wear away the enamel, making the teeth sensitive and more yellow as the enamel is what gives teeth their bright and white color. When toothpaste is too abrasive or too acidic in nature, it can cause the gums to look red and inflamed. Having healthy pink gums is such an important part of having a confident smile.
For those wanting to whiten your teeth naturally, here is what I recommend:
Find a natural toothpaste that is low on the abrasive scale that will remove stains without removing the enamel. Find one that has the essential oils and natural ingredients that will promote gum health while also whitening the teeth. Stay away from activated charcoal and other products that will destroy the enamel. Stay away from foods that will stain your teeth, a good rule of thumb is that if it won't wash out of a white shirt in the laundry, don't eat it:). Lastly and most importantly just stay consistent. Set up a normal routine that allows you to brush your teeth and rinse your mouth every morning and evening. That consistency is going to be crucial in maintaining a confident smile and the ability to smile with confidence and not hold back is a powerful thing!