Brilliant white teeth are not necessarily any healthier than those that are a little off-white, but that doesn't stop people worrying about the colour of their teeth. Over the last couple of generations, the concern with white teeth has steadily increased, which has led to a huge industry and a number of different treatments emerging to adjust tooth colour.
Of course, it's also led to many claims about 'natural' home remedies that promise whiter teeth, often with things you already have around the house. But does the reality live up to the claims? Can you really get significantly whiter teeth without any professional treatment or expensive products? Here are a few of the common suggestions.
Bicarbonate of soda
This common baking ingredient, which is also known as baking soda in some places, is often touted as a healthy fix for discoloured teeth. Don't confuse it with baking powder, which contains bicarbonate of soda but has other ingredients as well.
The idea is simple: mix some baking soda with a little water until you get a paste, and use it to brush in addition to your usual toothpaste. So does it work?
Yes and no. Brushing with bicarb can remove light stains so teeth will appear whiter. But it won't get to the more stubborn stains. And if you overdo it, the abrasive action can damage your teeth and irritate gums, so go easy.
Activated charcoal is a particular form of carbon that's been treated to become extra porous. A lot of health claims are made about it, among them that brushing with it is a miracle tooth-whitener. Toothpastes containing the ingredient have sprung up everywhere.
However, dentists are warning that charcoal is far too abrasive for teeth, and there's significant doubt that it's even effective, so use plenty of caution.
Coconut oil is claimed by some to cure pretty much anything, so it's no surprise that it's said to whiten teeth.
The technique known as oil pulling has been used for a very long time, and basically involves swirling a tablespoon of oil around your mouth for ten minutes or longer, then spitting it out. Alternatively, you could just brush with it.
Some people claim it works wonders, but there's a lack of scientific evidence to back it up, so use your best judgement.
Apple cider vinegar
Another substance reputed to have may different health benefits, apple cider vinegar is used for teeth whitening either on its own or mixed with bicarbonate of soda. If it's used alone, dilute it with water and swish it around the mouth rather than brushing. The jury's out on whether this really works, and you should be very careful when using anything acidic, as it can seriously weaken tooth enamel.
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