9 natural ways to get (or fake) whiter teeth

Get a brighter smile with these chemical-free tricks
© Woman's Day // © Woman's Day

When it comes to saying “cheese,” do you suddenly find yourself tight-lipped? Yellow teeth—whether they’re from too much coffee, smoking or just bad genetics—can feel like a serious beauty setback. But you’re not alone: There are tons of whitening products on the market now, from creams to gels to miniature capsules, all devoted to teeth bleaching. If applying peroxides and other chemicals seems a bit too harsh, though, don’t worry. There are plenty of other natural ways to score a gleaming grin. Check out these 10 ideas to help make your smile appear brighter, au naturel.

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1. All-natural formula

Combine 1/2 tsp baking soda with ½ tsp table salt to make a teeth cleanser, says Dorie Byers, author of Natural Beauty Basics. Add one drop of breath-freshening peppermint essential oil to the mixture. Wet your toothbrush, then dip it into the mixture and brush. The particles in the baking soda polish the surface of your teeth, while a chemical reaction with the water lightens stains. To avoid damaging your enamel, don’t use this method more than once a week.

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2. Teeth-saving snacks

“Snack on saliva-producing foods like apples, pears, strawberries, celery and carrots,” says Thomas Connelly, DDS, a New York City cosmetic dentist. The additional saliva they produce helps remove bacteria from your mouth and whiten your teeth.

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3. Mineral magic

According to Byers, kaolin clay delivers a gentle abrasive action to teeth and can be used as a natural whitening agent. For breath freshening, a drop of peppermint or clove essential oil can be added. Dampen your toothbrush and dip it into the mixture, then brush. To avoid damaging your enamel, don’t use this method more than once a week.

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4. The wonders of water

“Swish water in your mouth for 30 seconds right after eating,” says Dr. Connelly. “It will help prevent the food you just ate from staining your teeth.”

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5. Creamy goodness

Dr. Connelly also recommends adding a splash of cream or milk to black coffee or tea—it changes the chemistry of the beverage, which makes it much more difficult for stains to adhere to the tooth’s surface.

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6. Think outside of the tube

Try a brightening toothpaste that uses all-natural ingredients. Dental hygienist and manager of Tom’s of Maine’s Oral Care Division Susanne Kuehl recommends Tom’s of Maine Simply White toothpaste, which removes stains with sodium fluoride (sourced from fluorspar, an ore) and silica (purified from the earth). You won’t find any chemical thickeners in Tom’s products: They use seaweed instead.

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7. Organic option

Another smart pick for an all-natural toothpaste—and a favorite of Dr. Connelly’s––is Miessence Organic Mint Toothpaste. It uses bicarb soda, a mineral component, to brighten your teeth, and spearmint, peppermint and cinnamon to freshen breath.

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8. Another reason to eat your greens

Load up on spinach and other dark green veggies, like broccoli and kale. These leafy greens contain a mineral compound which produces a film that covers teeth and protects against stains.

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9. Pass on the pop

Avoid soda, which contains acids––like phosphoric, citric, malic and tartaric acids––that can strip your teeth’s enamel. If you have to indulge once in a while, use a straw. It’ll help keep your teeth stain-free.

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