In 2021, Americans spent over $15 billion on teeth whitening, including over $1.9 billion on at-home whitening products (1).
There are plenty of products to choose from when it comes to whitening your teeth.
However, most whitening products use chemicals to bleach your teeth, which concerns many people.
If you want whiter teeth but also want to avoid the chemicals, this article lists many options that are both natural and safe.
What causes teeth to look yellow?
Multiple factors cause teeth to become dull and lose their bright, white sparkle.
Certain foods can stain your enamel, which is the outermost layer of your teeth. Additionally, plaque buildup on your teeth can cause them to look yellow.
This type of discoloration can usually be treated with regular cleaning and whitening remedies.
However, sometimes teeth look yellow because the hard enamel has eroded, revealing the dentin underneath. Dentin is a naturally yellow, bony tissue that lies underneath the enamel.
Here are 6 simple ways you can naturally whiten your teeth.
1. Practice oil pulling
Oil pulling is a traditional Indian folk remedy meant to improve oral hygiene and remove toxins from the body.
The practice involves swishing oil around in your mouth to remove bacteria, which can turn into plaque and cause your teeth to look yellow (2Trusted Source).
Traditionally, Indians used sunflower or sesame oil for oil pulling, but any oil will work.
Coconut oil is a popular choice because it has a pleasant taste and offers many health benefits.
Streptococcus mutans is one of the primary types of bacteria in the mouth that cause plaque and gingivitis. One study found that daily swishing with sesame oil significantly reduced Streptococcus mutans in saliva in as little as 1 week (8Trusted Source).
Unfortunately, no scientific studies have proven that oil pulling whitens your teeth. However, it’s a safe practice and worth a try. Many people claim their teeth are whiter and brighter after regular oil pulling.
To oil pull, put 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth and push and pull the oil through your teeth. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, so you may need to wait a few seconds for it to melt. Continue the oil pulling for 15–20 minutes.
Be sure to spit the coconut oil into a toilet or trash can, as it could return to solid form once in your drain pipes and cause a clog.
Unlike many other tooth whitening methods, coconut oil pulling does not expose your teeth to acid or other ingredients that erode the enamel. This means it’s safe to do daily.
You can purchase coconut oil online.
2. Brush with baking soda
Baking soda has natural whitening properties, which is why it’s a popular ingredient in commercial toothpaste.
It’s a mild abrasive that can help scrub away surface stains on teeth.
Additionally, baking soda creates an alkaline environment in your mouth, which prevents bacteria from growing (9Trusted Source).
This is not a remedy that will whiten your teeth overnight, but you should notice a difference in the appearance of your teeth over time.
Science has not yet proven that brushing with plain baking soda will whiten your teeth, but several studies show that toothpaste containing baking soda has a significant whitening effect.
One study found that toothpastes containing baking soda were significantly more effective at removing yellow stains from teeth than standard toothpastes without baking soda. The higher the concentration of baking soda, the greater the effect (10Trusted Source).
Furthermore, a review of five studies found that toothpastes containing baking soda removed plaque from teeth more effectively than non-baking soda toothpastes (11Trusted Source).
To use this remedy, mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 2 teaspoons of water and brush your teeth with the paste. You can do this a few times per week.
You can buy baking soda at a grocery store or find it online.
3. Use hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a natural bleaching agent that also kills bacteria in your mouth (12Trusted Source).
In fact, people have been using hydrogen peroxide for years to disinfect wounds because of its ability to kill bacteria.
Many commercial whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide, although at a much higher concentration than you will use.
Unfortunately, no studies have investigated the effects of rinsing or brushing with hydrogen peroxide alone, but several studies have analyzed commercial toothpastes containing peroxide.
One study found that a toothpaste containing baking soda and 1% hydrogen peroxide led to significantly whiter teeth (13Trusted Source).
Another study found that brushing with a commercial toothpaste containing baking soda and peroxide twice per day led to 62% whiter teeth in 6 weeks (14Trusted Source).
However, there are some questions regarding the safety of hydrogen peroxide.
While heavily diluted concentrations appear safe, strong concentrations or overuse can cause gum irritation and tooth sensitivity. There’s also concern that high doses may cause cancer, but this has not been proven (15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).
One way to use hydrogen peroxide is as a mouthwash before you brush your teeth. Make sure you are using a 1.5% or 3% solution to avoid side effects.
The most common concentration of hydrogen peroxide at the drugstore is a 3% solution. You can easily dilute this concentration to 1.5% by mixing equal parts peroxide and water.
Another way to use hydrogen peroxide is by mixing it with baking soda to make a toothpaste. Combine 2 teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide with 1 teaspoon of baking soda and gently brush your teeth with the mixture.
Limit the use of this homemade paste to a few times per week, as overuse can erode your tooth enamel.
You can buy hydrogen peroxide online.
4. Eat fruits and vegetables
A diet high in fruits and vegetables may be good for both your body and your teeth.
While they’re no substitute for brushing them, crunchy, raw fruits and vegetables can help rub plaque away as you chew.
Strawberries and pineapple are two fruits that have been claimed to help whiten your teeth.
Whitening your teeth with a strawberry and baking soda mixture is a natural remedy that has been made popular by celebrities.
Proponents of this method claim that the malic acid found in strawberries will remove discoloration on your teeth, while the baking soda will buff away stains.
However, this remedy has not been completely backed up by science.
While strawberries may help exfoliate your teeth and make them appear whiter, they are unlikely to penetrate the stains on your teeth.
A recent study found that a strawberry and baking soda mixture produced very little color change in teeth, compared with commercial whitening products (26Trusted Source).
If you decide to give this method a try, limit its use to a few times per week.
To use this remedy, smash a fresh strawberry, combine it with baking soda, and brush the mixture onto your teeth.
Some claim that pineapple can whiten teeth.
A study found that a toothpaste containing bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapples, was significantly more effective at removing tooth stains than a standard toothpaste (29Trusted Source).
However, there is no evidence that eating pineapples produces the same effect.
5. Prevent tooth stains before they happen
While your teeth naturally yellow as you age, some things can help prevent stains on your teeth.
Limit staining foods and beverages
That doesn’t mean you have to completely avoid them, but you should limit the amount of time these substances are in contact with your teeth.
If possible, drink beverages known to stain teeth out of a straw to prevent direct contact with your teeth.
Moreover, brush your teeth roughly 30 minutes after consuming one of these foods or beverages to limit their effects on the color of your teeth.
Additionally, avoid smoking and chewing tobacco, as both can cause tooth discoloration.
Limit your sugar intake
If you want whiter teeth, cut back on your sugar intake.
When you consume a sugary food, be sure to brush your teeth soon after.
Get plenty of calcium in your diet
Some tooth discoloration is caused by enamel eroding and exposing the dentin underneath, which is yellow. Therefore, anything you do to strengthen the enamel of your teeth will help keep your teeth pearly white.