Like shiny hair and glowing skin, a brilliant smile is a great physical asset. It’s a mark of good health and one of the first things people notice.
No wonder then that people spend so much time and money trying to make their teeth whiter and brighter. And why there are so many teeth whitening toothpastes, bleaching strips, and similar products on the market.
Unfortunately, most mainstream teeth whitening products contain peroxides and other harsh chemicals that can actually damage teeth and gums.
Why should you avoid conventional teeth whitening products?
Your body drinks up practically everything you put on it. So you can just imagine that it absorbs all the toxic chemicals you put in your mouth, even when you try not to swallow. Yes, that means you’re basically eating the ingredients in your teeth whitening strips and bleaching kits.
Most of these products contain the active bleaching agent hydrogen peroxide. Studies have found that certain concentrations of this chemical can cause tooth sensitivity and gum irritation. There’s also concern that excessive use or high concentrations may lead to cancer. And because teeth whitening products haven’t been around all that long, scientists don’t really know what their long term effects are.
The quest for a brighter smile is real, but harsh teeth whitening ingredients aren’t the only way to go. Yes, mainstream teeth whitening products do work. But you can also whiten your teeth and get a photo ready smile without putting a cocktail of chemicals in your mouth.
Safe teeth whitening ingredients
These natural teeth whitening ingredients aren’t only safer—they’re easier to use, cheaper than mainstream options, and help improve overall dental hygiene.
It may seem counterintuitive, but using an ingredient that makes your mouth look pitch black can actually leave your pearly whites looking a lot brighter. Activated charcoal binds to the tannins—the compounds in things like coffee, tea, and red wine that stain our teeth—and lifts them right off the surface. Because activated charcoal has antibacterial and anti fungal properties, charcoal teeth whitening products also leave your mouth feeling—and smelling—so much cleaner.
Baking soda/bicarb soda
Toothpastes with bicarb soda are more effective at whitening teeth with intrinsic stains than toothpastes without it. They also remove plaque from teeth more effectively than toothpastes without this versatile ingredient. The higher the concentration of the bicarb soda, the more effective the toothpaste is at removing plaque.
Bicarb soda may be too abrasive, so don’t use it on its own to whiten your teeth. It’s better mixed with liquids (like coconut oil) or as an ingredient in toothpaste.
This miracle worker helps remineralise and whiten teeth. It has monolaurin, which prevents the formation of plaque, fights tooth decay, and reduces gingivitis.
Unlike ingredients that could pose a risk to your enamel, coconut oil isn’t at all abrasive. What’s more, oil pulling with coconut oil is as effective as conventional mouthwashes in eliminating the bacteria that cause tooth decay.
Yes, turmeric stains just about everything it touches. But not teeth, apparently. Turmeric, an ancient herb that has a ton of medicinal uses, removes the plaque that causes teeth to be discoloured. Not only does it leave your teeth looking lighter, its antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties also leave your mouth much healthier.
Products: My Magic Mud Polishing Tooth Powder
Papain, an enzyme derived from papaya, whitens teeth by breaking down food residue that leads to stains. A 2012 study found that a toothpaste containing papain and bromelain (an enzyme derived from pineapple) had better stain removing and teeth whitening effects than a conventional toothpaste (in this case, Colgate regular).
Bentonite clay removes teeth stains naturally and easily. It’s abrasive enough to slough off plaque without damaging the enamel. It also neutralises the bacteria that lead to tooth decay and discolouration, leaving your teeth sparkling clean.
What’s your favourite natural teeth whitening product? Let us know in the comments below!
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