A smile that’s less than pearly white may make you want to keep your grin to yourself. Whiteness and the color of teeth are among the first things people notice in a person’s smile, according to a recent survey by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.
If your teeth are yellow or stained, you might be contemplating natural tooth whiteners and wondering if they’re worth a try.
First, it helps to understand how teeth whitening systems available from your dentist work. Professional whiteners use peroxide solutions to bleach discolorations from your teeth at higher concentrations than drugstore teeth-whitening products. The least expensive option is a kit you can get at the dentist’s office. Prices vary depending on region, but generally run from $50 to $75. “They can be a good bet for quick, relatively inexpensive last-minute whitening,” says Marc Nock, DDS, of Zenthea Dental in New York City.
The second teeth-whitening choice involves custom-fit trays. Your dentist will take an impression of your teeth to make a tray “that fits your smile like a glove, ensuring that a minimum amount of whitening material comes into contact with your gums, reducing pain and sensitivity,” Dr. Nock says. Prices run from $350 to about $600.
The third and most expensive option is in-office whitening coupled with custom-fit trays to use at home. This option can produce almost instantaneous results by using whitening gels activated by a special light. “Most people will leave several shades lighter than when they walked in,” says Kellee Kattleman Stanton, DDS, a family and cosmetic dentist at George Dental Group in Eagan, Minn. Again, prices vary but can top $1,000.
Home Remedy Solutions for Natural Tooth Whitening
What if you can’t drop hundreds on professional teeth whitening? Here are some common home remedies that might help:
Baking soda. This inexpensive home remedy works because it’s a mild abrasive and scrubs away stains instead of bleaching them out. But Stanton notes that using this too often can wear down the enamel of your teeth. Some people report success in using a mix of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. However, Nock advises using a toothpaste that includes those ingredients so you know you’re getting the right mix of chemicals to safeguard dental health.
Peroxide rinse. “Try using 3 percent peroxide as a twice-a-day rinse or in your Waterpik instead of water,” suggests Nock. Crunchy fruits and veggies. Munch on apples or celery to remove surface plaque and stains, says Nock. Hard cheeses can do the same and also give you a calcium boost, which he adds is necessary to maintain dental health and keep bones strong. Stanton says that cheese also neutralizes acids to help prevent tooth decay.
Strawberries. Applying a paste of crushed strawberries to your teeth can act as a natural tooth whitener. Strawberries contains malic acid, which can soften and dissolve stains. But the acid can also soften enamel, damaging your teeth, says Stanton. If you do this frequently, your teeth may actually look more yellow because as the enamel wears down, the yellow dentin layer underneath becomes more visible.
Lemons. The acid in lemons can provide some short-term whitening, but both Stanton and Nock advise against using citrus juice to whiten your teeth. Nock explains that much like malic acid, citric acid etches away enamel and leaves microscopic “ditches” in your teeth, which allow for deeper stains. In the long run, your teeth could look worse.
Wearing red. On your lips, that is. “Red lipstick with a cool, blue base color can make teeth look whiter,” says Stanton. But steer clear of orangey-red tones, which can make teeth appear more yellow, she adds.
If you’re still tempted to try an over-the-counter teeth whitener, read the ingredient list carefully. Says Nock, “When shopping at the drugstore: peroxide good, acid bad.”
Both dentists encourage drinking plenty of water to keep your teeth clean and stain-free. Stanton also suggests sipping your coffee and other dark beverages with a straw to protect your front teeth from stains. And most of all, she says, eating a balanced diet and brushing and flossing regularly are the best ways to keep your smile white, bright, and healthy.
Original Source: Every Day Health.com