Teeth can become stained and yellow over the years due to aging and wear and tear. While it does not necessarily mean that there is anything wrong, modern aesthetics tend towards wanting white, brighter looking choppers.
Teeth whitening at the dentist is called 'chairside bleaching'. The use of trays to hold the whitening gel, along with professional supervision, means that a stronger formula can be used and teeth can be whitened fast, safely.
While home whitening kits are available, these can be risky. Leading to irritation, increased sensitivity and even severe pain, due to overuse.
So if you stick to the frequency of whitening recommended and carried out by your dentist what can you do in the meantime to maintain your pearly white glow?
Here are five 'natural' teeth whiteners recommended by the internet and their pros and cons.
(1) Baking Soda
Method - This is probably the most popular alternative whitener. Aka sodium bicarbonate. Mixed with lemon juice or water and applied as a paste for a few minutes. Or found in many 'whitening' toothpastes.
Pros - It is very alkaline and may help balance pH levels in the mouth.
Cons - Messy and gritty in paste form. Plus not officially approved by the American Dental Association and definitely not recommended as a sole form of cleaning.
Method - The malic acid and vitamin C supposedly help remove surface stains and plaque if you chew them slowly or mash them up and use them like toothpaste
Pros - They taste nice!
Cons - Research by LiveScience showed no discernible whitening effect and raised concerns about the effects of the acid weakening tooth enamel.
(3) Coconut Oil
Method - This contains lauric acid which it is claimed can help remove teeth yellowing plaque from teeth by swishing and pulling a chunk of oil around the mouth for a long time - up to 20 minutes.
Pros - If it works and you have lots of time to spare, great! Lauric acid is known for its antimicrobial action so it's feasible it could be helping to whisk away dental bacteria.
Cons - No large scale scientific studies to assess whether the anecdotal benefits are real. Here is a doctor's viewpoint for interest.
(4) Orange or Lemon Peels
Method - Recommended to rub the white parts of the peels all over your teeth before brushing.
Pros - They contain vitamin C, pectin, limonene, glucarate and soluble fiber. All compounds often found in teeth whitening products.
Cons - These are very acidic fruits and can easily cause damage to the enamel and therefore weaken your teeth. Unlikely your dentist would want you to try this.
(5) Activated Charcoal
Method - Found in health food stores. Mash down a tablet into a paste which will be coal black. Dab it on teeth and leave for a few minutes before rinsing off.
Pros - It's quite fast (if a little messy) and you can pretend you have a mouth full of rotten teeth for several minutes. Nothing harmful should occur if you swallow it as it is an ancient remedy still used in hospitals for alcohol and other poisonings.
Cons - Again, no proper research into possible benefits for teeth. Plus its binding nature may affect medications, i.e. preventing the body from proper absorption.
Well, as you can see, natural may not always be best. Be sure to check with your dentist before trying out the latest teeth whitening techniques sweeping the internet.