5 Things to Know About Home Teeth Whitening

1. Brush and floss regularly

The best thing you can do for your oral health is to brush and floss your teeth after every meal if possible, or at least twice a day. Not only does regular brushing and flossing reduce your risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease, the combination also helps to remove plaque before it can give your teeth a yellow hue.

Not much of a flosser? About half of American adults don’t floss [source: Freeman]. Don’t overlook flossing. Regular, proper flossing helps to remove stains from between teeth making your smile appear brighter.

And in addition to the toothy benefits, good oral hygiene habits may help lower your risk of other health problems, such as coronary heart disease and stroke.

2. Brush with berries

These little berries will help lower your risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and cancer, and as it turns out, are also helpful in whitening your teeth. Which berries? Strawberries. The vitamin C in strawberries will help whisk away plaque build-up, while the malic acid, a natural astringent in the berries, will help to remove surface stains on teeth.

Here’s how to do it: Crush strawberries into a pulp and apply that to your teeth with a toothbrush. Let it sit for five minutes and then rinse your mouth well with water. You can get similar results swapping the strawberries with a paste made with lemon juice and salt. Be sure to rinse well after applying that, too.

3. Say cheese

Eating cheese after a meal may help prevent cavities and may promote enamel remineralization. It’s the casein, a milk protein, that’s in cheese (and milk and yogurt) along with calcium and phosphate that are at work here, making enamel stronger.

Why is strong enamel important to a white smile? Enamel is the outermost layer of a tooth, and it protects the layer called dentin. While enamel can become stained, it’s the dentin that determines the color of your tooth. Eating things or using products that replenish calcium and phosphate is important to keeping enamel strong and healthy. While there are at-home remedies for removing stains from enamel, only your dentist can help with dentin discoloration. Keep enamel strong and keep your smile bright.

4. Buff stains away with baking soda

Whether you’re new to the world of tooth whitening, or it’s becoming an old habit, you probably already know this one: Baking soda will help brighten your smile.

This trick is an easy at-home stain remover. Mix baking soda and lemon juice into a paste. Brush the paste onto your teeth with a toothbrush, wait a minute, then brush thoroughly to remove. The baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, will help remove surface stains from your tooth enamel while the citric acid in the lemon juice has a bleaching effect.

If you have sensitive teeth and gums, baking soda can be used alone to remove stains, or it can be mixed with salt to do its stain-removing trick.

Take note: This whitening method can be abrasive, which means it may damage your tooth’s enamel if you aren’t careful. Buff no more than once per week, and don’t let the mixture sit on your teeth for more than one minute at a time.

5. Crunch on fruits and vegetables

Eat your vegetables! It’s not just a dinner time directive from mom — it’s also a fantastic way to maintain a healthy smile.

Crunchy vegetables such as raw celery and carrots, and crispy fruits like raw apples and pears are naturally abrasive, which means they’ll polish your teeth and remove stains from your tooth enamel — and they’ll do it without harming or eroding enamel, the outermost layer of a tooth.

Crunchy fruits and veggies also encourage your mouth to produce saliva, which is important because saliva helps protect teeth from cavity-causing bacteria. Saliva also contains compounds called surfactants as well as enzymes that give it detergent properties, which means the more saliva in your mouth, the fewer stains on your teeth.

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