No matter how old you are or where you come from, we all want a bright, white, healthy smile.
But getting and keeping a toothpaste commercial smile is easier said than done.
I’ve been brushing twice a day since I was a child, but my teeth still look dull and grungy sometimes.
Now, instead of reaching for expensive whitening strips, I treat my smile with handy natural ingredients that are already in my home.
Apple cider vinegar
You probably guessed it would make the list, because this vinegar is handy for anything and everything in your home.
Add the vinegar into your brushing routine a few times a month, using it on your toothbrush and gargling with it to clean bacteria out of your mouth.
Just be careful to rinse afterwards. Vinegar is acidic, which is great for cleaning plague, bacteria and stains off your teeth.
But leave it on for too long and it could damage your teeth as well.
I know, I hate flossing too, but hear me out.
We know that flossing keeps our gums healthy, but it keeps your teeth glowing too.
That’s because flossing removes food particles that cause bacteria. Bacteria turns into plaque, which makes your teeth look dull.
So get ahead of plaque buildup by flossing nightly.
This household staple doesn’t just clean bacteria out of your mouth, it also whitens teeth.
Mix a tablespoon of lemon or lime juice into the soda to make a paste. Then use a toothbrush to spread it onto your teeth and brush gently.
The acidic citrus juice cleans teeth, while the abrasive soda scrubs away stains.
Baking soda is also alkaline, so it protects your teeth. But be sure to rinse with water afterwards anyway.
Feel free to eat the actual orange, we only want the white part of the rind (which is called albedo).
Gently rub your teeth with the inside of the rind and you’ll notice they look whiter.
The peel contains a compound called limonene, which is actually used in a number of teeth whitening products.
Best of all, limonene is not acidic, so it’s tough on grime but gentle on your pearly whites.
Cut stain-makers from your diet
You don’t need expensive products to whiten your teeth. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
The most common stain-causing foods to avoid are dark berries, coffee and tea, wine and soda.
Of course nicotine products like cigarettes, cigars and chew tobacco will also turn your teeth yellow.
In the traditional medicine practice of Ayurveda, “oil pulling” is used to remove bacteria from the mouth.
The technique – which is just like rinsing your teeth with mouthwash – does kill bacteria, and can whiten your teeth at the same time.
You don’t need to use coconut oil, because sesame and olive oil work just as well.
Doctors are warning their patients not to rely on activated charcoal before regular, everyday brushing.
But the trendy technique can wipe surface stains from your teeth.
It works because charcoal soaks up the tannins from tea, coffee and wine that cause stains.
Buy food-grade activated charcoal powder, dip a toothbrush in it, and scrub gently before rinsing off any excess powder.
This handy all-natural recipe combines the two qualities you need in a good tooth cleaner: grit and cleaning power.
But you can make it with ingredients straight out of your pantry.
Just crush dried basil leaves and stir the powder into mustard oil. Rub the mixture over your teeth and rinse.
The leaves will clean gunk off your teeth while the antibacterial mustard oil will treat your gums.
This is one of those natural products that seems to have endless uses for common health problems.
The spice has anti-inflammatory properties to treat your gums, and it’s rich in antioxidants.
But it’s also a gritty powder, which is great for scrubbing stains off your teeth.
Just dip your finger in the powder, rub along your teeth, and rinse your mouth.
Add more fruit to your diet
Apples and peaches contain malic acid, which can promote production of saliva in your mouth.
Other fruits like strawberries and grapefruit are lightly acidic, and clean residue off your teeth.
Pineapples also naturally contain and enzyme called bromelaine, which is used in certain toothpastes.
No matter what kind of fruit you prefer, adding more of them to your diet will make your smile noticeably brighter.
Make sure you’re getting enough calcium
As we get older, our bodies make up for calcium deficiencies by leeching the nutrient out of our bones and teeth.
You can get a healthy dose of calcium using supplements, but also by healthy dairy foods like low fat yogurt and cheese.
Even figs and certain vegetables like broccoli are high in calcium.
What’s your secret teeth-whitening technique?