Nothing makes a great first impression like a warm and beautiful smile. However, if you aren’t confident about your teeth, how could you really open up? Cosmetic dentists can offer professional teeth-whitening services, but these can cost thousands of dollars and might involve dangerous chemical substances.
So what can you do to make your teeth whiter without breaking the bank? Here are nine simple and cost-effective solutions for a better smile, all without leaving your home.
1. Brush Your Teeth
The most important factor in keeping your teeth clean, healthy, and white is by brushing them regularly, at least two times a day. This will help keep both intrinsic and extrinsic stains (that is stains on the inner layers and the surfaces) to a minimum.
The American Dental Association also advises on its website that “[t]oothbrushes should be replaced approximately every three to four months or more often if the bristles become matted or frayed.” The ADA adds that “[t]he effectiveness of the brush decreases as the bristles become worn.”
While a good brushing practice can keep staining to a minimum, those who enjoy drinking coffee, black tea, soft drinks, or red wine will need additional help keeping their teeth white.
2. Epsom Salt
This wonder substance, known chemically as magnesium sulfate, has long been popular for a variety of home remedies. While many people have historically used it for restorative baths, Epsom salts can also be an effective teeth-whitening solution due to its gently abrasive quality.
According to Lovie Acupuncture and Healing, “[n]ot only can Epsom salt whiten your teeth, but it helps fight against periodontal disease.” The site suggests mixing “equal parts Epsom salt and water. Once the crystals have dissolved, dip your toothbrush into the mixture and brush well. Gargle with the Epsom solution and rinse.”
3. Sea Salt and Ginger Root
Ginger is commonly used in many Asian cultures for medicinal purposes, and it doesn’t just help the body; it also can improve oral health. There are two compounds in the root, namely raffinose and gingerol, that aid in dental care. According to Dr. Derek Chang, D.D.S., the former “[r]elieves pain, swelling, and infections related to toothache; [r]educes biofilm and other bacterial accumulation on teeth and gums, and [p]revents inflammatory diseases like periodontal disease, which diminishes bone and tissue in your mouth.”
Chewing ginger or rubbing ginger on your gums and teeth is not only great for keeping them bacteria-free, but it also can help with whitening when mixed with mildly acidic and abrasive substances like lemon juice and sea salt.
4. Kaolin Clay
Kaolin Clay is also known as China clay and has a bright white color due to the mineral kaolinite contained in it. When mixed into homemade toothpaste, it can help polish and whiten teeth, while also helping rebuild the mineral protection on your teeth.
Just apply Kaolin Clay to your toothbrush and brush gently before rinsing your mouth with water.
5. Cocoa Powder
Although eating too much milk chocolate can be bad for your teeth because of the high sugar content, applying pure, unsweetened cocoa powder on your teeth can actually improve the quality of the enamel that protects them from stains and discolorations.
A scientific study in the journal Oral Health Prevention Dentistry showed that measured by “microhardness values, consistent and remarkable protection of the enamel surface was found with the application of theobromine” (the active component in cocoa products).
Mixing some cocoa powder with coconut oil will create a delicious and healthy paste that you can use both as a mouthwash and as a paste that will help whiten your teeth.
The leaves, bark, and twigs of the neem tree, Azadirachta indica, have long been known and used in India as oral health remedies. This is due to the naturally occurring substance nimbidin, which has many anti-bacterial and anti-plaque effects. Additionally, it also helps whiten your teeth.
A study in the medical journal Pharmacognosy Review suggests that “[r]egular brushing with Neem-containing toothpaste will reduce the deposition of plaque, prevents caries, and enhances the immune response for overall oral health.”
7. Natural Oils From Peppermint Leaves and Coconut
Like the use of neem leaves, the technique of “oil pulling” dates back to Ayurvedic medicine, the ancient system of healing developed in India. The technique involves swishing around quantities of natural oils, especially coconut, which is known to have anti-bacterial properties. By forcibly swishing the oil back and forth through the teeth, bacteria and plaque are removed and then spat out.
A study in the Journal of Pakistan Dental Association concluded that “coconut oil pulling can significantly reduce plaque and gingivitis and can be used as an effective antibacterial and antifungal agent.”
Peppermint oil, too, has long been used for controlling the bacteria that cause bad breath and dental infection, and can still be found in many kinds of toothpaste. However, a more direct application of peppermint oil through adding a couple of drops to your pulling solution can help prevent plaque accumulation, according to periodontist Dr. Kendall Scholes.
To whiten your teeth, grind the leaves of peppermint and add them to the coconut oil. Mix well and apply the mixture to your teeth.
8. Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide
Baking soda is used to control odors in fridges and as an abrasive, anti-bacterial cleaning solution, whereas hydrogen peroxide is commonly used as an antiseptic agent for treating wounds. When these two are combined, they can yield very positive results on tough-to-remove plaque stains.
According to Pleasant Family Dentistry, the recipe is as follows: “Take one tablespoon of baking soda and two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide. Mix both the contents, and you’ll end up with a paste. Use this paste to brush your teeth regularly.”
The dental practice notes that “[i]t’s not magic; you wouldn’t get super shiny teeth just after one session,” adding that with daily use, “you’ll eventually start to see the difference.”
9. Baking Soda and Vinegar
In addition to mixing baking soda with hydrogen peroxide, another effective solution for thoroughly cleaning teeth can be created by adding vinegar. Many of us will remember the “volcano” or incredible foaming reaction created by mixing the two together from our primary school science classes.
However, the mixture of the anti-bacterial qualities found in both substances and the gentle abrasion from baking soda will help remove plaque from the teeth and fight bad bacteria. Making a paste by mixing the two can be a cheap and safe way to get your smile back.
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