Whether it’s for your children or yourself, everyone wants as white and healthy a smile as possible. While it is generally seen as a cosmetic problem, dealing with yellow spots and discolored teeth can noticeably impact confidence and self-esteem.
Fortunately, there are solutions. From cosmetic whitening procedures to whitening toothpaste, there are many options for tooth whitening for you and your family. Many people also wonder about the effectiveness of specific natural tooth-whitening remedies.
To help you learn more and understand your options for you and your little ones, we’re sharing this informative guide on how to whiten teeth naturally.
Why Do Teeth Become Yellow?
Teeth can take on a yellowish or brownish hue due to either external stains on the enamel or intrinsic issues that discolor the layer beneath the enamel, called the dentin. Teeth can also appear yellowish due to plaque and tartar buildup, which could be a warning sign of tooth decay and cavities.
External staining is most often due to food, drink, and other lifestyle choices. Foods like coffee, tea, wine, chocolate, and even tomato sauce can stain teeth. Tobacco products, especially chewing tobacco, are notorious for causing yellow teeth.
Intrinsic yellowing can be caused by certain medications, illness, injury, and even genetics. Children who take antibiotics such as tetracycline or doxycycline while their teeth are still developing can often experience yellow teeth.
What to Know About Whitening Children’s Teeth
Like adults, children often deal with the negative effects of tooth discoloration. A brighter, pearlier smile can really affect self-esteem and positively impact other areas of life.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has found that it is safe to whiten children’s teeth professionally after their adult teeth have come in. Procedures should only be performed once adult teeth have had time to calcify fully, usually after two years. Trying to whiten children’s teeth before this time can risk softening the enamel and increasing the risk of tooth decay.
Additionally, many whitening toothpastes are naturally abrasive, so pediatric dentists often recommend holding off on whitening toothpaste for children until they are old enough to brush properly.
6 Ways to Whiten Teeth Naturally
Before attempting whitening procedures, many people ask about steps to whiten their teeth naturally. In many cases, the best methods involve practicing an overall healthy lifestyle, including focusing on oral hygiene and eating healthy foods.
When trying any natural tooth whitening remedy or whitening toothpaste, always consult with your or your child’s pediatric dentist to make sure this method is suitable for you.
1. Practice Good Oral Hygiene
Often, the best thing you can do to achieve a whiter and brighter smile is to ensure you are brushing and flossing regularly and correctly. Bacteria in the mouth creates acids that weaken the enamel, making it easier to stain and discolor the teeth while increasing the risk of tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.
Brushing twice daily, thoroughly for two minutes, helps keep the enamel strong. Flossing removes particles from between the teeth.
2. Eat Healthy Foods
Although no specific foods have been proven to whiten teeth, there are benefits to eating a diet containing plenty of fruits and vegetables.
While there is no substitute for brushing, crunchy foods like carrots can help rub away plaque. There is some evidence that malic acid in strawberries and certain enzymes in pineapples may help with tooth discoloration, but this still hasn’t been fully proven, according to research.
3. Avoid Natural Tooth-Staining Foods
Another way to promote whiter teeth is to avoid foods and drinks that can stain the teeth and weaken the enamel. This includes:
- Coffee and tea
- Grape juice
- Tomato sauce
In general, limit sugar intake and do not eat or drink an hour before brushing to help promote strong enamel and limit staining.
4. Try Brushing with Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda
Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda are household items that may help with tooth whitening.
Hydrogen peroxide is a natural bleaching agent that also helps kill mouth bacteria. Many people report developing whiter teeth by rinsing with a solution that dilutes it with water or adding it to toothpaste. Hydrogen peroxide should never be swallowed, and it is generally not advisable for children to use.
Brushing with baking soda is a household trick that has been used for decades. Baking soda is naturally abrasive and creates an alkaline environment that is harmful to bacteria. Many kinds of toothpaste include baking soda as an ingredient.
5. Try Oil Pulling
Oil pulling is a natural remedy that is included in many Eastern medical traditions. The practice is purported to help remove bacteria from the mouth and potentially improve the appearance of teeth. Although there is limited evidence for its effectiveness as a tooth whitener, oil pulling can potentially limit plaque and tartar buildup by curbing bacteria in the mouth.
Coconut oil is popular for oil pulling due to its disinfectant and anti-inflammatory properties. Practitioners generally take a tablespoon of coconut and gently swish it around their mouth, pulling it through their teeth for five to 15 minutes a day.
Talk to your dentist to determine if this practice is right for you.
6. Tooth Whitening Procedures at Your Pediatric Dentist
If your child is still dealing with the negative effects of tooth discoloration despite fully exploring steps to naturally whiten teeth, cosmetic procedures for tooth whitening through your pediatric dentist may be the next step. Pediatric dentists know how to apply long-lasting and safe methods, particularly compared to store-bought products. To learn more about your options, speak to your dentist about tooth whitening for you or your child.
Keep Your Family’s Teeth Healthy with the Help of AC Pediatric Dentistry
Going to the dentist can be scary — we get it. But it should be fun! Whether it’s care for baby teeth, big kid teeth, oral surgery, or orthodontics, our team of specialized pediatric dentists make the experience memorable while teaching you how to encourage healthy habits and good hygiene for lifelong smiles. Call us today or request an appointment online. We can’t wait to meet you!