White teeth are considered beauty standard for over centuries. And it’s very rightfully said that your smile speaks volumes about your confidence. Teeth bleaching is the most sought-after treatment in a dental office.
Some people in spite of brushing many times a day have yellow teeth. Some develop stains on their teeth through habits like smoking and drinking excessive tea and coffee. These stains, discolorations, yellow shade of teeth can be corrected by bleaching the enamel of teeth (1).
Currently many whitening gels, trays, etc. are popular amongst youth. With such things being promoted by celebrities on social media, more and more people are inclining towards these bleaching products without knowing the truth about them. In the pursuit of getting the whitest of white teeth, people are destroying their enamel and doing some permanent damage to their teeth (2).
Instead, why not opt for natural methods to whiten your teeth? Why run behind paid promotions and spend hard earned money on unapproved products when you can get white teeth by the ingredients present in your kitchen. Practices such as oil pulling, eating fruits rich in malic acid like strawberries, brushing with mild abrasives like baking soda and kaolin clay can whiten the surface of your tooth naturally.
What is teeth whitening?
Teeth whitening is a popular procedure, especially amongst the middle-age population. It is less time consuming, reasonably easy and a comparatively inexpensive procedure.
Teeth whitening is a cosmetic procedure that helps lighten the stain and discoloration on the tooth surface. The main bleaching agent is the peroxide. It could be either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. This agent is either in a gel form or a liquid form.
The bleaching agent used can be activated chemically or through the light. Common over the counter product available in the market is bleaching kits which contain a higher amount of abrasives and peroxide. These products can cause chemical burns and damage to enamel and dentin leading to severe teeth sensitivity issues.
Teeth bleaching should be done under a licensed dental practitioner only.
What causes yellow teeth?
The only way a tooth naturally turns yellow is when it ages. For understanding, this concept lets just have a quick overlook over the morphology of our teeth.
Our teeth are made up of an outer protective layer and enamel. Enamel further has an inside layer called dentin layer. Our enamel is essentially whiter than dentin.
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As a person ages, the enamel slowly wears off, highlighting the inner yellow dentin layer. This thinning of enamel is a natural process, and many factors can fasten it (3).
Let us go through the factors leading to yellow teeth and stains
- Smoking cigarettes cause deposits of nicotine, tar, and tobacco on the tooth surface. Heavy smokers have brown to black staining on their teeth surfaces.
- Also, excessive consumption of tea and coffee erodes the enamel of teeth. Tea and coffee contain tannins which are acid polyphenols, and they lead to discolorations and staining of enamel.
- Aerated and carbonated drinks, Soda can cause acid erosion of the enamel layer of the tooth (4).
- Wine tasters have usual staining of their teeth due to regular consumption of wine.
- Certain fruits like blueberries, Blackberries, pomegranates which are pigmented can cause staining on regular consumption.
- Acidic fruits, like lemons, citrus fruits, clementines can cause acid erosion of the enamel layer.
- Certain antibiotics like tetracycline and doxycycline can discolor teeth.
- Mouth rinses like chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride can also cause staining of teeth (5).
- Specific genetic factors also contribute to yellow teeth.
- Excessive fluoride intake during early development.
The practice of teeth whitening
It wasn’t until the 1980s when the dentists noticed that the hydrogen peroxide used while treating gum could bleach the teeth. Many studies were conducted to determine the ideal percentage of hydrogen peroxide and its substitutes. Trays and gels were created for ease of delivery of procedure.
With people being profile conscious, teeth whitening is a trending dental practice worldwide.
History of teeth whitening
Evidence of practices for teeth whitening has been found to be 4,000 years old. The Egyptians created a tooth whitening paste by mixing the ground pumice stone and wine vinegar. The mixture was then rubbed on the teeth with the help of twigs.
The Romans practiced whitening by combining goat milk with urine. Later people came to know that the ammonia in urine bleached the surface of the tooth.
In those days, there was a norm that your wealthy status is directly proportional to your teeth whiteness. For a substantial period, barbers managed the dental work. They used to fill the teeth using metal files and applied nitric acid to remove stains. This method did more damage than good.
The method of teeth whitening radically changed when the profession of dentistry emerged substantially in the late 18th century.
Natural methods to whiten teeth
This is a personally tried and tested method And yes it works wonders. When strawberries are rubbed on the tooth surface, the malic acid present in strawberries mildly bleaches the enamel of the tooth.
The best part of this process, other than the rich taste of strawberries, is that it doesn’t harm or erode the enamel. Instead, the process makes the enamel lustrous and clean since the seeds of strawberries can also act as a mild abrasive.
This is another tried and tested method. Oil pulling is best done with coconut oil as it has rich flavors and numerous other health benefits. Squishing oil in our mouth for at least 15-20 minutes a day can remove the plaque deposits on the tooth and give you the sparkling whites.
Baking soda and peroxide
Combine two tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide with one tablespoon of baking soda. Mix the mixture till it foams and makes a paste. Brush with this paste and let it stand for a minute. Rinse your mouth, and you will experience an overall clean mouth and white teeth.
Apple cider vinegar is an acidic drink with a ph of around 3. Our enamel starts corroding at ph 5.5. So apple cider vinegar should always be diluted before application on teeth. Apple cider vinegar on regular consumption will prevent plaque formation due to its acetic acid component.
Kaolin clay, especially the white kaolin clay has been proven to have a high cleaning efficacy. The abrasives present in kaolin clay are mild, but at the same time, they have a high ability to remove stains.
Activated charcoal, when brushed on the tooth surface, may help whiten your teeth. Though in the longer run charcoal can abrade the enamel of teeth and cause dentinal hypersensitivity.
Rubbing banana peel
Rubbing the inside of a banana peel on the tooth surface is known to whiten the enamel of the tooth.
Rubbing lemon rind
Rubbing the inside of citrus fruit peels, like that of lemon and oranges will help remove the stains.
Above methods will help you in achieving the desired bright white teeth, but they don’t remove caries or gingivitis or prevent a toothache. Hence, never underestimate the potential of brushing and flossing.
Try to incorporate food rich in minerals & calcium, such as cheese, yogurt, nuts, etc., in your diet plan. Avoid smoking, junk foods, and soda and regularly visit your dentist for a healthy dentition.
Teeth whitening is a cosmetic procedure and care should be taken to maintain the health of teeth and gums. Overall, you will be able to prevent dental decay and gingivitis.