Teeth staining is a common occurrence. It happens when the outer layer of your teeth, or your enamel, becomes discolored.
There are many teeth whitening products on the market. You can choose from whitening toothpaste, strips, or gel. Your dentist may also offer professional bleaching.
But these treatments can be expensive. They also contain chemicals, which may be harsh on your teeth and gums.
If you’d like to whiten your teeth without chemicals, you may be looking for more natural remedies. One option is to eat foods that naturally whiten your teeth.
Though there’s some evidence that these foods work, their effects are mainly anecdotal and theoretical. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to try them. Read on to learn about these foods and how they may lighten your teeth.
Strawberries contain malic acid. This acid is said to have bleaching properties, which may help lighten stained teeth.
Malic acid can also increase saliva production in people with dry mouths. Saliva protects against tooth decay, a common cause of discoloration, by washing away food and debris.
Watermelon has more malic acid than strawberries. The malic acid could play a role in lightening your teeth and promoting saliva production.
Some people also say the fibrous texture of watermelon scrubs your teeth, which helps remove stains. There’s no scientific evidence to back up this claim, though.
Your teeth are covered with pellicle, or a layer of salivary proteins. Your pellicle layer protects your teeth, but it also absorbs pigments from food. This can lead to staining.
Your pellicle layer also gives bacteria something to stick to. If bacteria accumulate, they can cause plaque and tooth discoloration.
However, pineapple can naturally dissolve pellicle. It contains a proteolytic enzyme called bromelain. Proteolytic enzymes can break down proteins, including those in your pellicle layer.
Papaya, like pineapple, contains a proteolytic enzyme.
The enzyme in papaya is called papain. It also breaks down protein, which degrades your pellicle layer. This helps reduce stains and protects against plaque formation.
The lactic acid in milk may also lighten your enamel. It’s also said to stimulate the production of saliva, which can help wash away cavity-causing bacteria.
Casein, a protein in milk, prevents staining too. Casein helps recruit calcium phosphates to repair cavities and prevent plaque accumulation.
One 2014 studyTrusted Source also showed that casein binds to polyphenols in tea, which prevents tannins from sticking to teeth and causing staining.
Other dairy foods, like cheese and yogurt, also contain lactic acid and casein, and may have a similar effect.
It’s unknown how long it takes for these foods to lighten teeth. There’s no research on the expected time frame. However, compared to commercial products, natural remedies typically take longer.
It also depends on the original color of your teeth. If your teeth are significantly stained, it will likely take longer to see results. The same is true if you eat a lot of foods that stain your teeth.
Along with eating the above foods, you can also try these natural teeth whitening remedies at home:
Brush and floss regularly
Brushing and flossing every day is one of the best ways to keep your teeth white.
It’s recommended to brush your teeth two times a day. Brush the outer, inner, and top surfaces of your teeth for 2 minutes. This will scrub away stains while removing debris and cavity-causing bacteria.
Floss between your teeth once daily to help remove plaque and bacteria.
Brush with baking soda
Baking soda is a popular remedy for whitening teeth. It’s naturally abrasive, so it can mechanically remove stains. In fact, it’s a common ingredient in whitening toothpastes.
To use baking soda to lighten your teeth, mix equal parts water and baking soda to make a paste. Use your toothbrush to rub it on your teeth for 1 minute, then spit it out.
Brush with mustard oil and salt
Mustard oil and salt is a traditional Ayurvedic remedy for whitening teeth.
The idea is that mustard oil removes plaque and staining. It can be used by itself in a practice called oil pulling. According to the proponents, oil pulling reduces plaque and bacteria.
Salt can be added to enhance the whitening effect. Its abrasive texture is said to mechanically remove stains. Salt also increases the pH of saliva, which may have an antibacterial effect.
One way to use this remedy is to combine 1 part salt and 3 parts mustard oil. Rub the mixture on your teeth for 1 minute, then spit it out.
Rinse with hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a natural bleaching agent. It’s often used in commercial whitening products.
To use it as a teeth lightener, combine equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water. Swish the solution in your mouth for 30 seconds, then spit it out.
Another option is to make a baking soda paste with hydrogen peroxide instead of water.
Limit foods that stain your teeth
You can prevent additional discoloration by limiting tooth-staining foods and drinks. These foods include:
- dark berries
- tomato-based sauces
- black tea
- red wine
- dark cola
- fruit juice
- energy drinks
When you do drink a tooth-staining beverage, use a straw to reduce the risk of stains. You can also add milk to coffee and tea to further minimize the risk.
Strawberries, watermelon, and dairy products may help whiten your teeth. These foods contain compounds with lightening properties.
Pineapple and papaya also have proteolytic enzymes that dissolve stain-causing proteins on your teeth.
Simply eating these foods won’t transform the color of your teeth, though. It’s still important to limit tooth-staining foods and practice good oral hygiene.
You can also try other natural remedies, like baking soda or hydrogen peroxide.