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How To Make Teeth White Naturally From Yellow
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When brushing twice a day and flossing doesn’t help improve your yellow teeth, it’s time to consider how to make teeth white naturally from its yellow state. Teeth become yellow due to stains – both deep and surface-level – as well as other causes that sometimes aren’t under our control. Whether the discoloration is due to staining or other factors, several over-the-counter (OTC) products can improve tooth color, and your dentist can also offer preventative advice on how to whiten yellow teeth.
What Causes Yellow Teeth?
Although coffee and cigarettes leave stains on your teeth over time, thin tooth enamel also makes teeth look yellow. Tooth enamel is the hard, white surface of your teeth, and underneath it is a pale brown substance called dentin. Thick enamel looks white, but thin enamel allows dentin tones to show through, making teeth look yellow from the outside. Enamel naturally wears thin as people age, but acids from foods and drinks such as sour candies, oranges and soda also thin the enamel by eroding its surface. Carole Palmer, head of the Division of Nutrition and Oral Health Promotion at Tufts University, tells Tufts Now that even chewable vitamin C tablets are acidic.
Saliva neutralizes acid and washes it away, but people suffering from dry mouth miss out on this protective effect. For example, children who breathe through their mouths due to blocked nasal passages can prevent saliva from remoisturizing the mouth when it’s closed – putting them at risk of developing thin tooth enamel.
Other causes of yellow teeth include antibiotic use or excessive fluoride intake in young children, which can cause yellow-stained adult teeth later. However, according to dentistry professor Mauli Simrativir, antibiotics and high fluoride levels cause blotching, rather than an overall yellow tone to the teeth. Sometimes yellow teeth just run in the family.
Preventing Yellow Teeth
Avoiding smoking, coffee and soda helps prevent yellow teeth, or you can get into the habit of drinking those darker beverages through a straw. Drink milk or plain water after eating or drinking something acidic to help reduce the acid’s eroding effect. Brushing and flossing also help, and avoiding snacks between meals allows your saliva to dilute the acids in your mouth too.
If you’re concerned that you or your child suffers from dry mouth, consult your doctor, and always use fluoride products per your dentist’s advice.
Whitening Yellow Teeth
OTC products such as Colgate Optic White Toothbrush and Whitening Pen is a convenient and affordable way to get five shades whiter teeth, can lift yellow tones in your teeth by removing stains and providing a mild bleaching effect when used as directed. Other products include whitening trays and even mouth rinses.
Discolorations are generally responsive to bleaching procedures, and dentists can advise on how to whiten yellow teeth depending on your case. Your dentist can provide bleaching kits to take home and use over a period of time, as well as in-office bleaching procedures. However, he or she might recommend waiting until all your child’s permanent front teeth have appeared before using a bleaching treatment, so that newer teeth aren’t a different color than bleached baby teeth.
With so many ways to treat yellow teeth, there’s no reason to hide a beautiful smile.
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Changes in the color of your teeth may be subtle and happen gradually. Some yellow color may be inevitable.
Teeth can look more yellow or darken especially as you age. As the outer enamel wears away, the yellowy dentin underneath becomes more visible. Dentin is the second layer of calcified tissue beneath the outside enamel layer.
If you’re looking to whiten your teeth, you do have some alternatives to conventional methods.
Please be careful with at-home whitening because you may damage your teeth if products are used incorrectly or for too much time. You may wear away too much of your enamel, which could put you at risk for sensitivity and cavities.
Remedies for yellow teeth
Here are seven natural options for getting rid of yellow teeth.
It may be best to choose a few treatments and rotate them throughout the week. Some of the suggestions below do not have research to support them, but have been proven to be effective by anecdotal reports.
Experiment to find a solution that works for you.
1. Brushing your teeth
Your first plan of action should be to brush your teeth more often and in the correct manner. It’s especially important that you brush after consuming foods and drinks that can lead to yellow teeth.
However, be careful with brushing immediately after consuming acidic foods and drinks. Brushing right away can make the acids brush away more enamel and lead to erosion.
Brush your teeth at least twice a day for 2 minutes at a time. Make sure you get into all of the cracks and crevices. Brush your teeth gently in a circular motion to ensure you’re protecting your gums. Brush the inside, outside, and chewing surfaces of your teeth.
Brushing with a whitening toothpaste has also been scientifically shown to whiten your smile, according to a 2018 study. These whitening toothpastes contain mild abrasives that scrub the teeth to remove surface stain, but are gentle enough to be safe.
Using an electric toothbrush may also be more effective in removing surface stains.
2. Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide
Using a paste made of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide is said to remove plaque buildup and bacteria to get rid of stains.
Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 2 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide to make a paste. Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after brushing with this paste. You can also use the same ratio of ingredients to make a mouthwash. Or, you can try baking soda with water.
You can purchase baking soda and hydrogen peroxide online. You can also buy 2012 study found that people who used a toothpaste containing baking soda and peroxide got rid of tooth stains and whitened their teeth. They showed significant improvements after 6 weeks.
A 2017 review of the research on toothpastes with baking soda also concluded that they’re effective and safe for removing tooth stains and whitening teeth, and can be used daily.
3. Coconut oil pulling
Coconut oil pulling is said to remove plaque and bacteria from the mouth, which helps to whiten teeth. Always shop for a high quality, organic oil, which you can purchase online, that doesn’t contain harmful ingredients.
Swish 1 to 2 teaspoons of liquid coconut oil in your mouth for 10 to 30 minutes. Don’t let the oil touch the back of your throat. Don’t swallow the oil as it contains toxins and bacteria from your mouth.
Spit it into the toilet or a wastepaper basket, as it could clog drains. Rinse your mouth with water and then drink a full glass of water. Then brush your teeth.
There are no specific studies that confirm the teeth whitening effect of oil pulling.
However, a 2015 study found that oil pulling using sesame oil and sunflower oil reduced gingivitis caused by plaque. Oil pulling could have a whitening effect on teeth, as plaque buildup can cause teeth to turn yellow.
Further studies on the effect of oil pulling with coconut oil are needed.
4. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can be used in very small amounts to whiten teeth.
Make a mouthwash by mixing 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar with 6 ounces of water. Swish the solution for 30 seconds. Then rinse with water and brush your teeth.
Research published in 2014Trusted Source found that apple vinegar has a bleaching effect on cow teeth.
However, it should be noted that it has the potential to cause damage to the hardness and surface structure of teeth. So, use it with caution, and only use it for short amounts of time. More human studies are needed to expand upon these findings.
5. Lemon, orange, or banana peels
Some people claim that rubbing lemon, orange, or banana peels on your teeth will make them whiter. It’s believed that the compound d-limonene and/or citric acid, which is found in some citrus fruit peels, will help to whiten your teeth.
Gently rub the fruit peels on your teeth for about 2 minutes. Make sure to thoroughly rinse out your mouth and brush your teeth afterward.
Scientific research proving the effectiveness of using fruit peels to make teeth whiter is lacking.
A 2010 studyTrusted Source looked at the effect of a toothpaste containing 5 percent d-limonene in removing teeth stains resulting from smoking and tea.
People who brushed with a toothpaste containing d-limonene combined with a whitening formula twice daily for 4 weeks significantly reduced smoking stains, though it didn’t remove long-standing smoking stains or tea stains.
Further studies are needed to determine if d-limonene is effective on its own. A 2015 study reported that DIY whitening with strawberries or using citric acid was not effective.
A 2017 study tested the potential of citric acid extracts from four different types of orange peel as a teeth whitener. They were shown to have varying abilities on whitening teeth, with tangerine peel extract achieving the best results.
Be careful when using this strategy because fruit’s acidic. The acid can erode and wear away your enamel. If you notice that your teeth are becoming more sensitive, please stop using this method.
6. Activated charcoal
You can use activated charcoal to remove stains from your teeth. It’s believed that charcoal can remove pigments and stains from your teeth because it’s highly absorbent. It’s said to also get rid of bacteria and toxins in the mouth.
There are toothpastes that contain activated charcoal and claim to whiten teeth.
Open a capsule of activated charcoal and put the contents on your toothbrush. Gently brush your teeth using small circles for 2 minutes. Be especially careful in the area around your gums as it can be abrasive. Then spit it out. Don’t brush too aggressively.
If your teeth are sensitive or you want to limit the abrasiveness of the charcoal, you can dab it on your teeth. Leave it on for 2 minutes.
You can also mix activated charcoal with a small amount of water to make a mouthwash. Swish this solution for 2 minutes and then spit it out. Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after using activated charcoal.
More scientific evidence is required to investigate the effectiveness of activated charcoal for teeth whitening. One paper published in 2019 found that charcoal toothpaste can whiten teeth within 4 weeks of use, but it wasn’t as effective as other whitening toothpastes.
Research has found that activated charcoal can be abrasive on teeth and tooth-colored restorations, leading to loss of tooth structure. This abrasiveness may make your teeth look more yellow.
If you wear away too much enamel, more of the yellowy dentin underneath will become exposed. Be cautious when using charcoal and charcoal-based dentifrices, especially because of the lack of evidence to prove its effectiveness and safety.
7. Eating fruits and vegetables with a higher water content
It’s said that eating raw fruits and vegetables with a high-water content can help to keep your teeth healthy. The water content is thought to cleanse your teeth and gums of plaque and bacteria that lead to yellow teeth.
Chewing on crunchy fruits and vegetables at the end of a meal may increase saliva production. This can help to remove food particles that are stuck in your teeth and wash away any harmful acids.
While there’s no doubt that a diet high in fruits and vegetables is good for your dental and overall health, there’s not a lot of scientific evidence that supports these claims. That said, eating these healthy foods throughout the day certainly won’t do any harm.
While the study didn’t look at the whitening effect of vitamin C on teeth, it links high-plasma vitamin C levels to healthy teeth. The research suggests that high levels of vitamin C can reduce the amount of plaque that causes teeth to become yellow.
A 2012 studyTrusted Source found that a toothpaste containing papain and bromelain extract showed significant stain removal. Papain is an enzyme found in papaya. Bromelain is an enzyme present in pineapple.
Further studies are warranted to expand upon these findings.
There are many factors that can cause teeth to turn yellow.
Teeth can become yellow from:
- certain foods or drinks, such as blueberries, red wine, coffee, or tea
- a diet high in sugar and simple carbohydrates
- smoking or chewing tobacco
- side effects of certain medications and mouthwashes
- age, as older adults are more likely to have yellow teeth
- mouth trauma
- excessive fluoride consumption
- poor dental care and oral hygiene
- chronic dry mouth or lack of saliva
There are many at-home options you can try to whiten your teeth.
However, be cautious because you can damage your enamel or gums, which can lead to sensitivity and cavities. The best way to whiten your teeth is to prevent stains before they happen, continue to practice good oral hygiene, and have regular dental checkups.
If you’ve tried these methods without success, your dentist may be able to help you determine if another treatment method may be a better option.Healthline ChallengesLooking to cut back on sugar? We’ll give you some sweet tips
Our Nutrition newsletter’s 10 day sugar challenge guides you in bringing more awareness to the sugars in the foods you eat and gives you the tools you need to make healthier choices. Let’s get started!
In 2015, Americans spent over $11 billion on teeth whitening, including over $1.4 billion on at-home whitening products (1).
There are plenty of products to choose from when it comes to whitening your teeth.
However, most whitening products use chemicals to bleach your teeth, which concerns many people.
If you want whiter teeth but also want to avoid the chemicals, this article lists many options that are both natural and safe.
What causes teeth to look yellow?
Multiple factors cause teeth to become dull and lose their bright, white sparkle.
Certain foods can stain your enamel, which is the outermost layer of your teeth. Additionally, plaque buildup on your teeth can cause them to look yellow.
This type of discoloration can usually be treated with regular cleaning and whitening remedies.
However, sometimes teeth look yellow because the hard enamel has eroded, revealing the dentin underneath. Dentin is a naturally yellow, bony tissue that lies underneath the enamel.
Here are 7 simple ways you can naturally whiten your teeth.
1. Practice oil pulling
Oil pulling is a traditional Indian folk remedy meant to improve oral hygiene and remove toxins from the body.
The practice involves swishing oil around in your mouth to remove bacteria, which can turn into plaque and cause your teeth to look yellow (2Trusted Source).
Traditionally, Indians used sunflower or sesame oil for oil pulling, but any oil will work.
Coconut oil is a popular choice because it has a pleasant taste and offers many health benefits.
Streptococcus mutans is one of the primary types of bacteria in the mouth that cause plaque and gingivitis. One study found that daily swishing with sesame oil significantly reduced Streptococcus mutans in saliva in as little as 1 week (8Trusted Source).
Unfortunately, no scientific studies have proven that oil pulling whitens your teeth. However, it’s a safe practice and worth a try. Many people claim their teeth are whiter and brighter after regular oil pulling.
To oil pull, put 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth and push and pull the oil through your teeth. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, so you may need to wait a few seconds for it to melt. Continue the oil pulling for 15–20 minutes.
Be sure to spit the coconut oil into a toilet or trash can, as it could return to solid form once in your drain pipes and cause a clog.
Unlike many other tooth whitening methods, coconut oil pulling does not expose your teeth to acid or other ingredients that erode the enamel. This means it’s safe to do daily.
You can purchase coconut oil online.
Summary Coconut oil pulling involves swishing oil in your mouth for 15–20 minutes to remove bacteria. Practicing this daily can reduce plaque and may brighten your teeth.
2. Brush with baking soda
Baking soda has natural whitening properties, which is why it’s a popular ingredient in commercial toothpaste.
It’s a mild abrasive that can help scrub away surface stains on teeth.
Additionally, baking soda creates an alkaline environment in your mouth, which prevents bacteria from growing (9Trusted Source).
This is not a remedy that will whiten your teeth overnight, but you should notice a difference in the appearance of your teeth over time.
Science has not yet proven that brushing with plain baking soda will whiten your teeth, but several studies show that toothpaste containing baking soda has a significant whitening effect.
One study found that toothpastes containing baking soda were significantly more effective at removing yellow stains from teeth than standard toothpastes without baking soda. The higher the concentration of baking soda, the greater the effect (10Trusted Source).
Furthermore, a review of five studies found that toothpastes containing baking soda removed plaque from teeth more effectively than non-baking soda toothpastes (11Trusted Source).
To use this remedy, mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 2 teaspoons of water and brush your teeth with the paste. You can do this a few times per week.
You can buy baking soda at a grocery store or find it online.
Summary Brushing with a paste made with baking soda and water can reduce bacteria in your mouth and buff away surface stains.
3. Use hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a natural bleaching agent that also kills bacteria in your mouth (12Trusted Source).
In fact, people have been using hydrogen peroxide for years to disinfect wounds because of its ability to kill bacteria.
Many commercial whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide, although at a much higher concentration than you will use.
Unfortunately, no studies have investigated the effects of rinsing or brushing with hydrogen peroxide alone, but several studies have analyzed commercial toothpastes containing peroxide.
One study found that a toothpaste containing baking soda and 1% hydrogen peroxide led to significantly whiter teeth (13Trusted Source).
Another study found that brushing with a commercial toothpaste containing baking soda and peroxide twice per day led to 62% whiter teeth in 6 weeks (14Trusted Source).
However, there are some questions regarding the safety of hydrogen peroxide.
While heavily diluted concentrations appear safe, strong concentrations or overuse can cause gum irritation and tooth sensitivity. There’s also concern that high doses may cause cancer, but this has not been proven (15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).
One way to use hydrogen peroxide is as a mouthwash before you brush your teeth. Make sure you are using a 1.5% or 3% solution to avoid side effects.
The most common concentration of hydrogen peroxide at the drugstore is a 3% solution. You can easily dilute this concentration to 1.5% by mixing equal parts peroxide and water.
Another way to use hydrogen peroxide is by mixing it with baking soda to make a toothpaste. Combine 2 teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide with 1 teaspoon of baking soda and gently brush your teeth with the mixture.
Limit the use of this homemade paste to a few times per week, as overuse can erode your tooth enamel.
You can buy hydrogen peroxide online.
Summary Hydrogen peroxide is a natural bleaching agent and can kill bacteria in your mouth. You can use it as a mouthwash or mix it with baking soda to form a whitening toothpaste.
4. Use apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has been used for centuries as a disinfectant and natural cleaning product.
Acetic acid, which is the main active ingredient in apple cider vinegar, kills bacteria. The antibacterial property of vinegar is what makes it useful for cleaning your mouth and whitening your teeth (20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source, 22, 23Trusted Source).
One study on cow teeth found that apple cider vinegar exhibits a bleaching effect. However, it also found that vinegar may soften teeth (24Trusted Source).
The acetic acid in vinegar has the potential to erode the enamel on your teeth. For this reason, you should not use apple cider vinegar every day. You should also limit the amount of time that apple cider vinegar is in contact with your teeth (25Trusted Source).
To use it as a mouthwash, dilute it with water and swish it around in your mouth for several minutes. Make sure to rinse your mouth with plain water afterward.
You can find apple cider vinegar online.
Summary Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial properties that may help whiten your teeth. However, the overuse of vinegar can also erode your tooth enamel, so limit its use to a few times per week.
5. Eat fruits and vegetables
A diet high in fruits and vegetables may be good for both your body and your teeth.
While they’re no substitute for brushing them, crunchy, raw fruits and vegetables can help rub plaque away as you chew.
Strawberries and pineapple are two fruits that have been claimed to help whiten your teeth.
Whitening your teeth with a strawberry and baking soda mixture is a natural remedy that has been made popular by celebrities.
Proponents of this method claim that the malic acid found in strawberries will remove discoloration on your teeth, while the baking soda will buff away stains.
However, this remedy has not been completely backed up by science.
While strawberries may help exfoliate your teeth and make them appear whiter, they are unlikely to penetrate the stains on your teeth.
A recent study found that a strawberry and baking soda mixture produced very little color change in teeth, compared with commercial whitening products (26Trusted Source).
If you decide to give this method a try, limit its use to a few times per week.
To use this remedy, smash a fresh strawberry, combine it with baking soda, and brush the mixture onto your teeth.
Some claim that pineapple can whiten teeth.
A study found that a toothpaste containing bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapples, was significantly more effective at removing tooth stains than a standard toothpaste (29Trusted Source).
However, there is no evidence that eating pineapples produces the same effect.
Summary Certain fruits may have properties that help whiten teeth. Regularly consume raw fruits and vegetables to help rub off plaque and keep your teeth looking bright.
6. Prevent tooth stains before they happen
While your teeth naturally yellow as you age, some things can help prevent stains on your teeth.
Limit staining foods and beverages
That doesn’t mean you have to completely avoid them, but you should limit the amount of time these substances are in contact with your teeth.
If possible, drink beverages known to stain teeth out of a straw to prevent direct contact with your teeth.
Moreover, brush your teeth soon after consuming one of these foods or beverages to limit their effects on the color of your teeth.
Additionally, avoid smoking and chewing tobacco, as both can cause tooth discoloration.
Limit your sugar intake
If you want whiter teeth, cut back on your sugar intake.
When you consume a sugary food, be sure to brush your teeth soon after.
Get plenty of calcium in your diet
Some tooth discoloration is caused by enamel eroding and exposing the dentin underneath, which is yellow. Therefore, anything you do to strengthen the enamel of your teeth will help keep your teeth pearly white.
Summary A healthy diet with enough calcium can help prevent your teeth from becoming yellow. Brushing your teeth soon after you eat can also help prevent stains.
7. Don’t underestimate the value of brushing and flossing
While some tooth discoloration naturally comes with age, it’s largely a result of plaque buildup.
Regularly brushing and flossing can help your teeth stay white by reducing bacteria in your mouth and preventing plaque buildup.
Toothpaste gently rubs out stains on your teeth, and flossing removes bacteria that lead to plaque.
Regular dental cleanings can also help your teeth stay clean and white.
Summary Daily brushing and flossing, along with regular cleanings at the dentist’s office, prevent the buildup of yellowing plaque on your teeth.
Other methods that are not proven
There are a few other natural teeth whitening methods, but there is no scientific evidence to prove that they are safe or effective.
Some of the unproven methods include:
- Activated charcoal. Brushing with powdered charcoal supposedly pulls toxins from the mouth and removes stains from teeth.
- Kaolin clay. Proponents of this method claim that brushing with clay helps remove stains from teeth.
- Fruit peels. Rubbing orange, lemon, or banana peels on your teeth is claimed to make them whiter.
Advocates of these methods claim they make teeth significantly whiter, but no studies have evaluated their effectiveness. This also means that they have not been tested for side effects when used on teeth.
Summary Activated charcoal, kaolin clay, and fruit peels may help whiten your teeth, but no studies have evaluated the safety or effectiveness of these methods.
The bottom line
There are several natural methods to help whiten your teeth. Most of these remedies work by gently removing surface stains on your teeth.
However, most dentists offer whitening treatments that are much stronger than these natural remedies. They involve bleaching the teeth, which may be more effective for severe tooth discoloration. Overuse of any whitening product can damage your teeth.
Always check with your dentist about your options and which would work best for you.
This piece was originally published on November 9, 2016. Its current publication date reflects an update, which includes a medical review by Christine Frank-Melnyk, DDS.Healthline ChallengesLooking to cut back on sugar? We’ll give you some sweet tips
Our Nutrition newsletter’s 10 day sugar challenge guides you in bringing more awareness to the sugars in the foods you eat and gives you the tools you need to make healthier choices. Let’s get started!