Whiter teeth, like thick, shiny, hair, is something that many people in our cosmetically driven world desire today. In fact, Americans spend over $1.4 billion dollars in over-the-counter teeth whitening products every year-that’s a good chunk of money just to achieve a different shade of teeth. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve tried OTC teeth whitener-I even paid to have my dentist do it once. It worked for a bit, but my teeth got so sensitive I couldn’t stand it. I also felt I really didn’t need to be so obsessed with the color of my teeth that I paid a bunch of money for a bunch of who-knows-what that made my teeth hurt, so I started looking into more natural alternatives. With a bit of patience, I think you can naturally restore whiteness to your teeth. They may not get to be scary sear-out-somebodies-corneas –when-you –smile white, but they’ll appear more like you took good care of your pretty pearly whites rather than just bleaching them like crazy.
Why do teeth get yellow?
To figure out how to whiten our teeth, we have to know why they get yellow in the first place. There are several factors that play a part, including genetics, what kind of food and drink you consume, and how well you practice oral hygiene. A tooth is made up of 4 tissues-enamel, which is the strong white covering that protects the tooth, dentin, which supports the enamel and is a hard yellow material that carries nerves, pulp, which is at the center of the tooth and contains blood and lymph vessels, and cementum, which covers the root of the tooth.
The enamel and dentin is what play the biggest role in color. Certain food and drinks will directly stain the enamel, yes, but over time the two biggest culprits are the nasty food and drink that actually break down the enamel, and weakening enamel as we age. As the enamel breaks down, it reveals the yellow dentin underneath. These remedies will focus on whitening teeth that have already lost some white enamel, but it’s also good to keep in mind that doing things to strengthen enamel is just as important so you can keep it from breaking down further. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure (or whitening!)
1. Baking Soda and Lemon Juice Paste
Baking Soda isn’t a shocker here. Sodium bicarbonate (its official name) is mildly abrasive; gently scrubbing away surface stains to return teeth to a whiter shade. It’s also very alkaline (the opposite of acidic) so I would think if you have a very acidic mouth or eat a lot of acidic food, it could help balance out the Ph, which would be useful as acid breaks down enamel-this is strictly speculation on my part. It will also reduce the acidity of the lemon juice, which acts as a natural bleach of sorts. I use a mixture of baking soda and water on some days, and use the lemon juice on others, as I don’t want to overdo it.
You will need…
-Several teaspoons of baking soda
-Enough lemon juice or water to form a paste
Mix several teaspoons of baking soda with enough fresh lemon juice (or water) to make a paste. Wipe your teeth and any extra saliva off of them with a paper towel. Put a good amount of paste onto your toothbrush and apply.
Leave the paste on for 1 minute, then rinse, so as to avoid the acid effecting enamel. If you are using just water you can leave it on for up to 3 minutes.
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