How to whiten your teeth naturally, with at-home methods

If your teeth are yellow or stained, there are many ways to get them whiter. Jerome Tisne/Getty Images
  • You can whiten teeth at home with many natural methods.
  • For starters, you should make sure you are brushing your teeth thoroughly each day, and consider trying a better toothbrush or toothpaste – like one with baking soda, which can help whiten teeth.
  • You can also try increasing the amount of calcium in your diet and drinking more water instead of beverages that stain or yellow teeth – like soda, fruit juices, coffee, tea, or wine.
  • This article was medically reviewed by John T. Grbic, DMD, professor of dental medicine at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine.
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Calcium is responsible for keeping your enamel – the protective outer layer of your teeth – healthy and strong. Because calcium is naturally white in appearance, healthy teeth also have a white appearance.

When your enamel wears away or becomes stained, your teeth may become yellow. However, you may be able to whiten them again with natural, at-home treatments. Here’s how.

Why are my teeth yellow?

Dentin is yellow and lies underneath the white and transparent enamel,” says Zachary E. Linhart, DDS, of Linhart Dentistry. “Exposure of your dentin is often the culprit of yellow teeth.”

For example, acidic foods and beverages – such as citrus fruits, juices, or carbonated drinks like soda – can erode tooth enamel and lead to exposed dentin.

Coffee, black teas, and wine are also acidic and contribute to the erosion of tooth enamel. Moreover, they contain tannins – and these naturally occurring compounds are notorious for teeth discoloration.

Finally, both tar and nicotine quickly cause discoloration on teeth, so smoking cigarettes will also lead to stains that can be difficult to remove.

How to whiten teeth naturally at home

Regular brushing and flossing – along with a dental cleaning every six months – will help get rid of the surface stains on your teeth, Linhart says.

However, when you’ve got stubborn stains or yellowing because the enamel has worn away, you may need something more powerful – but be careful of commercial products.

“There are valid concerns around the ingredients and formulations of commercial oral care lines,” Linhart says. “For example, many commercial lines often contain high levels of silica which causes abrasion and loss of enamel.”

Therefore, a more natural approach may be best. Here are some tips for how you can naturally whiten your teeth at home:

  • Calcium. By eating foods that are high in calcium, like milk and cheese, you can help to strengthen the enamel in your teeth, says Linhart. This healthy addition to your diet could slow down erosion by strengthening your enamel.
  • Drink more water. Tap water in the United States contains fluoride, which helps to strengthen enamel. Try to limit your consumption of coffee, tea, soda, and wine – and drink more water instead. Replacing these beverages with water can help prevent erosion and the yellowing of teeth that comes with it.
  • Brush more thoroughly. Brushing your teeth should take a full two minutes, twice a day. Make sure you’re moving your brush in a circular motion and working hard to reach all the surface areas of your teeth. If you want a little extra whitening power, a 2018 study published in the International Journal of Dentistry concluded that over-the-counter toothpaste by major brands like Arm-and-Hammer and Oral B are effective at whitening teeth over time.
  • Baking soda. Research has found that toothpaste containing baking soda can be more effective in removing stains than those without this natural abrasive ingredient. However, using regular baking soda to brush may be too abrasive, so stick with products made specifically for your teeth.

If you’re not satisfied with the results of naturally whitening your teeth at home, schedule a visit with your dentist. They can recommend a course of treatment that aligns with your goals for safe and effective teeth whitening.

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