Julia Roberts, Beyoncé, and Anne Hathaway all have one thing in common: a million dollar smile. Celeb or not, your smile is arguably your best accessory. And while you may not be making appearances on the red carpet, it doesn’t hurt to have those pearly whites at the ready for photo opps, especially when you’re making your way through the holiday circuit that is December. Not feeling quite photo-ready though? Same.
If you’re like me and you’ve sworn off the harsh whitening dental procedures (who willingly goes to the dentist?) and products that promise a movie-star smile but come at a cost (literally and figuratively), plus you aren’t ready to kick your caffeine or red wine habit, how do you achieve a white grin? Well, I did my homework and grill-ed (pun intended) dentists on how to whiten teeth sans chemicals. Read on for their best non-toxic DIY methods (spoiler: you likely already have the ingredients in your kitchen) and product recommendations for whitening your teeth safely and effectively. The best part other than a brighter smile in no time? They’re all user and budget-friendly.
DIY methods to whiten teeth
The kitchen staple that freshens your fridge and is an essential ingredient in your favorite holiday cookie recipe can pull triple duty polishing teeth, thanks to its scrubbing agents. “As a mild abrasive, it can lighten some tooth stains, and it can help scrub away dental plaque,” explained Dr. Selin Kılıç, a dentist at Vera Clinic Cosmetic Dentistry. “To use, first mix equal parts baking soda and water in a small bowl until you’ve created a paste. Dip your toothbrush into the soda mix and brush in gentle circles, making sure you cover each tooth thoroughly with the paste. Thoroughly rinse after.”
Apple cider vinegar
Another versatile must-have in the kitchen, apple cider vinegar has long been in the spotlight for its touted health benefits (the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Hilary Duff, and Kourtney Kardashian are obsessed). “Since it’s naturally acidic, it can help break down plaque or other substances stuck to the teeth,” Dr. Kılıç stated. “The pH of apple cider vinegar can remove stains from your teeth, which helps naturally whiten your teeth. To use, simply rinse apple cider vinegar diluted with water, and gently swish it around the mouth for about one minute.”
If you’re familiar with Ayurveda, chances are you’ve heard of oil pulling. “Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that involves swishing a tablespoon of oil, such as coconut or sesame, around your mouth for 20 minutes each day,” described Dr. Cary Goldstein, a dentist and Founder of the Goldstein Dental Center. “This practice helps to draw out toxins and bacteria that cause discoloration.” What’s more, the natural remedy is not only said to whiten teeth, but also rid the body of toxins, freshen breath, and greatly improve oral health.
Fruits and veggies
As if we needed another reason to load up on fresh produce, it turns out it does more than just provide our bodies with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. “The compound D-limonene and citric acid, which is found in some citrus fruit peels, is great to help whiten your teeth,” Dr. Kılıç affirmed. “You can do this by gently rubbing the fruit peels from oranges or lemons on your teeth for a few minutes. After, make sure to thoroughly rinse out your mouth and brush your teeth.” While a diet high in fruits and vegetables is no substitute for maintaining good hygiene, Dr. Kılıç confirmed that crunchy, raw varieties (think: apples, celery, and carrots) can help rub plaque away as you chew. Consider your uneaten produce sitch resolved.
Non-toxic products to whiten teeth
Don't get these confused with the whitening strips of the past. Made with coconut, lemon peel, and sage oils, these strips naturally lift stains and break down tough tartar without the all-too-familiar tooth sensitivity, gum irritation, and unpleasant taste their less-than-natural counterparts leave.
Among the all-natural teeth whitening products, this activated charcoal powder reigns supreme, and for good reason. Known for its detoxifying properties, activated charcoal binds to and draws out everything from toxins to odors. The result? It can effectively help remove plaque and discoloration from your teeth. Coffee doesn't stand a chance.
Not all teeth whitening toothpastes are created equal. And if there's one to beat, it's this hemp oil-derived, fluoride-free alternative. Make it part of your morning and nightly routine and you'll bid adieu to surface stains and plaque while freshening your breath. It's no wonder this gem is called "Freakin' Fresh."
Whether you're looking to remove old stains or keep new ones away, this gentle, yet effective pick delivers a convenient and cost-effective way to give you a gleaming smile. Did I mention it's free of preservatives, additives, and artificial dyes and flavorings? Never leave home without it, because you never know when you might have a teeth-whitening emergency (think: a hot date or important presentation).
If you're looking for a fancy device without the fancy price tag, we got you. Blue LED frequency activates hydrogen peroxide in the Dissolving Whitening Strips that come with it to remove tough stains on tooth’s surface. Bonus: the strips contain antioxidants for additional oral health benefits.