As our hair turns gray, our teeth turn yellow naturally. This is because the inner part of the teeth called dentin – not because of the enamel rods which are first to be impacted by external factors that changed yellow.
Over time, the dentin will appear darker, while the enamel will get thinner due to wear, grinding, or exposure to acidic food and drinks, like coffee, wine, etc. The discolored dentin then reflects the enamel, making it look yellow.
Beside of aging, tooth discoloration may occur due to external factors such as: falling on or hitting a tooth, cavities, genetics, being exposed to too much fluoride during childhood and many more. Tooth enamel can also become stained if that individual has a habit of smoking or chewing tobacco, drinking tea, coffee or red wine, eating stained foods without following good oral hygiene, and using mouthwash with chlorhexidine.
Teeth whitening usually happens in two ways:
- Intrinsic whitening
This technique refers to whitening the dentin or inner part of the tooth. This can be done by soaking it with hydrogen peroxide gel also called whitening gel or bleach and become lighter.
When peroxide is used to whiten teeth, it produces free radicals which tend to whiten the darkest pigments in the spaces between enamel cones.
The free radicals physically shrink the pigment molecules which reduces the darkness. In addition, making the pigment smaller also means that they would reflect less light.
This process hydrates teeth. They are rehydrated as soon as you start eating and drinking again. This is the reason why you should be cautious about what you are consuming a day after you whiten your teeth.
If you have yellow dentin, then the only way to whiten your teeth is by using bleaching gel. This method, however, will not work if you have heavily stained teeth.
- Extrinsic Whitening
This is the process of removing the stains on the outer part of the teeth. The stains are usually caused by smoking, drinking red wine, tea or even coffee. This can be easily removed with a polish by your hygienist at a teeth cleaning or with polishing and whitening toothpaste.
When you do so, you are exposing the color of your dentin by clearing the enamel stains. This can make your teeth appear whiter, however, it will not be able to change the color of your dentin.
You can start doing this by trying a stain-removing toothpaste for a couple of weeks. Outer staining removal can be done by professional teeth cleaning too. If your teeth are grayish rather than yellowish, however, this means that damaged your cavities. The only thing that you can do in this case is to restore the cavities. This can be done by investing in bonded teeth or veneers.
Underneath is a list of ways you can do you teeth whitening naturally.
1. Oil Pulling
Oil pulling is a traditional Indian folk remedy that is meant to improve oral hygiene and remove toxins from the body. Oil pulling has been proven to effectively reduce the bacteria in your mouth, along with plaque and gingivitis.
This is can be done in a very simple way; swirling the oil around your mouth to remove the bacteria which could cause harm to your teeth. You can do oil pulling for a full fifteen to twenty minutes. Since it does not have any acid or any other ingredients that erode the enamel, this can be done daily.
This practice is very good to ensure the health of your mouth, however, it has not been proven to be able to whiten your teeth. Traditionally, the oil is made of sunflower and sesame oil. But, any oil would work.
These days, coconut tree oil is a popular choice. People prefer to use coconut oil because it has a pleasant taste. However, studies suggested that coconut oil can reduce inflammation and kill bacteria.
2. Brush with baking soda
Baking soda is known to have whitening properties. Its mild abrasive texture can help scrub the stains away from your teeth as well. Additionally, baking soda creates an alkaline environment which prevents bacteria from growing.
Although this method is not scientifically proven, there are results of comparation that stated the higher the baking soda content in the teeth, the greater that it will help in whitening the teeth.
To do this, you only have to mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with two teaspoons of water. You can start brushing your teeth with the paste. This can be done a few times a week.
3. Using Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a natural bleaching agent that also can kill the bacteria in your mouth. A lot of commercial whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide with a higher concentration than you might use.
Like baking soda, there is no official study that proved that using hydrogen peroxide can help to whiten your teeth. Although, in one of them, it is found that toothpaste containing baking soda and a higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide could significantly whiten your teeth.
There are some concerns regarding using hydrogen peroxide, such as a strong concentration of it can cause gum irritation and tooth sensitivity.
The way to use hydrogen peroxide is to mouthwash it before you brush your teeth. Ensure that only 1,5% or 3% solution that is used to prevent from side effects. Then, you can simply dilute the concentration by mixing equal part of peroxide and water.
Another alternative that you could do is by mixing baking soda with hydrogen peroxide. Use two teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Gently brush your teeth with the mixture.
In order to avoid the side effect that we have mentioned, use the paste or the mixture of hydrogen peroxide a few times per week as it can also erode your tooth enamel.
4. Preventing Tooth Stains from happening
The best way to whiten your teeth naturally is by preventing the stains from happening. Coffee, red wine, soda, and dark berries are the few that are infamous for staining teeth. If it is possible, drink the beverages out of a straw to prevent it from having direct contact with your teeth. Otherwise, brush your teeth as soon as you have consumed that kind of beverages.
Get plenty of calcium-rich food such as milk, cheese, broccoli, that may protect your enamel. This is because some of the tooth discolorations are caused by enamel eroding away and exposing the dentin underneath which is yellow in color.