6 Ways to Whiten Your Teeth—and 2 “DIY Treatments” to Avoid

Don’t use anything acid-based

Apple Cider Vinegar in motionMichelle Lee Photography/Shutterstock

Many methods of at-home “natural” teeth whitening use acidic or abrasive elements (more on them later.) Things like strawberries, orange peels, or apple cider vinegar can make your teeth appear brighter—but they are very bad for your overall oral health, according to Dr. Burhenne. “Using something acidic on your teeth will eat away more quickly at enamel, weakening teeth and making them more likely to age faster,” he says. But just because you shouldn’t rub fruit on your teeth doesn’t mean they are bad to eat. In fact, a healthy diet is still a good idea for your oral health. These 7 foods can whiten your teeth—but avoid these 4.

Avoid abrasive methods

Wooden bowl with large sea salt on gray stone table. Top view, close up.Nata Bene/Shutterstock

Abrasive scrubs with things like sea salt are also not ideal for teeth whitening. The same goes for toothpaste that’s anything less than creamy. Using these methods reduces staining while also creating microscopic scratches on your teeth. “Abrasive ingredients, even ‘natural’ ones, will cause microabrasions on the teeth that are a great breeding ground for bacteria that cause tooth decay,” Dr. Burhenne says. You won’t need a natural teeth whitener if you don’t have any teeth!

Stain prevention is key

Close up view of african american black man cleaning white healthy teeth holding using dental floss isolated on grey studio blank background, oral hygiene concept, tooth health care caries preventionfizkes/Shutterstock

The bottom line is, natural teeth whitener options are only helpful if you also prevent future stains. Dr. Burhenne recommends staying hydrated, swishing water in your mouth post-meals, and treating other oral health issues like bruxism. The wear and tear of bruxism, or teeth grinding, can also prematurely age teeth, causing them to yellow, according to Dr. Burhenne. “Overall health can greatly impact how fast your teeth age, and fast-aging teeth look yellow,” he says. “Focus on good hydration and a healthy diet to keep your teeth bright from the inside out.” Dr. Zharnitsky also says consistent brushing, flossing, and regular checkups with your dentist will preventing staining before it happens. Prevent tooth decay while you’re at it and avoid these 30 everyday mistakes that can ruin your teeth.

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