Many of the foods we consume on a regular basis can stain our teeth over time, making them appear yellow, or even brown. Some of the most common offenders are red wine and coffee, but who wants to give those up, right?
While proper oral hygiene can help prevent this issue, discoloration isn't always 100 percent avoidable. Instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars on expensive whitening treatments or turning to harsh chemicals that can cause sensitivity, consider trying one of these five natural methods for removing surface stains on your teeth.
Whitening Method No. 1: Oil Pulling
How It Works: Oil pulling involves putting a tablespoon or more of oil in your mouth and literally pushing and pulling it between your teeth for about 20 minutes. It may sound a bit odd or off putting, but the oil actually helps remove dirt and bacteria and may reduce stains. The most common oils used for oil pulling are coconut and sesame -- which at least have some flavor -- and you can work your way up to pulling the oil for the entire 20 minutes.
Whitening Method No. 2: Probiotics
How It Works: Probiotics are the good bacteria that live in the body to balance out the bad bacteria in our systems to prevent illness. They support proper digestion and the immune system but also play a role in oral health. Probiotics can help prevent the accumulation of unwanted bacteria in the mouth that can lead to gum disease as well as discoloring of the teeth. You can take probiotic supplements in multiple forms, including capsules and chewables.
Whitening Method No. 3: Apple Cider Vinegar
How It Works: Apple cider vinegar is one of our favorite homeopathic remedies and we keep finding new ways to use it. With natural antibacterial properties, apple cider vinegar makes a wonderful mouthwash for continuous oral health. Swishing apple cider vinegar in your mouth daily can also help remove stains to whiten the teeth thanks to the acid in it as well. Make sure to purchase apple cider vinegar that is pure, organic and unfiltered.
Whitening Method No. 4: Activated Charcoal
How It Works: Used for years to help remove toxins from the body, activated charcoal binds with germs and bacteria in the mouth. It's also mildly abrasive in powder form which can help scrub stains away. In order to use activated charcoal to whiten your teeth, just open a capsule filled with activated charcoal and dump it onto your toothbrush. Brush your teeth as your normally would, for about two minutes and then rinse thoroughly. Your mouth might look a little strange while you're brushing, but don't be nervous -- the black charcoal will rinse completely away, revealing a brighter smile.
Whitening Method No. 5: Baking Soda + Lemon Juice
How It Works: One method you're probably more familiar with is baking soda combined with a little lemon juice to form a paste. The baking soda is abrasive and the acid in the lemon juice can also help break through surface stains on the teeth. Once you mix up the paste, just gently brush it on the teeth and then rinse thoroughly. This method can be the harshest on the teeth, so be careful not to over brush or do this for more than once a day for two weeks.
Most whitening methods should be used for about two weeks and then only occasionally to maintain results. You can repeat the two-week whitening regimen every six to 12 months for a bright smile all year long. Beyond that, brushing and flossing twice a day and using mouthwash can help you keep stains from settling in on the teeth and altering the color of the enamel. If you notice any changes in sensitivity, make sure to see your dentist.
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