Sparkling white teeth are an important component of a beautiful smile. Unfortunately, our lifestyle contributes in a big way to our teeth losing their natural luster. While some causes of discoloration, like food habits or smoking, are of our own doing, others are out of our control. A cleaning and whitening session in the dentist's chair can do wonders for your smile, but will cause a dent in your bank balance. For those looking to put the sparkle back in their smile without spending a fortune on cosmetic dentistry, here are some tips you can use at home itself.
Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda
Almost everyone will recommend this one. While the usage differs, the most common method is to mix the baking soda with hydrogen peroxide, and scrub it on your teeth for a few minutes. Be really careful not to swallow any, as it can be very harmful. Follow this with a quick clean up (brushing) using your regular toothpaste.
Hydrogen peroxide is a whitening agent, but also a powerful, potentially dangerous chemical. Baking soda is not likely to bleach your teeth, but will help dislodge the plaque and make your teeth shine. However, remember that it is abrasive and excess use can damage the enamel on your teeth.
Lemon Juice and Orange Peel
Another method is the use of lemon juice. One way to use it is to squeeze a few drops onto your toothbrush and scrub away. You can also scrub an orange peel directly on your teeth, which will leave them white and shiny.
There are an equal number of warnings against the use of lemon juice or orange peel, as there are recommendations. Lemon juice and orange peel work by causing the teeth to lose their enamel, which makes them appear off white. This applies to all citrus fruits. However, this eventually weakens the teeth, making them more susceptible to cavities.
A relatively rarely used home remedy is wood ash. Wood ash (which can be collected from your fireplace) is said to be an effective whitening agent because of the presence of potassium hydroxide in it. However, be aware that you need to use 'hard wood' ash to see results. If this is your choice, use it sparingly, as potassium hydroxide is a harsh chemical and could damage your teeth.
For centuries, strawberries have been known as an aphrodisiac. However, it is only recently that their teeth whitening properties have come to light. This method involves the rubbing of strawberries on the teeth, which is supposed to help remove stains. Some mash the strawberries, apply and leave it on for a few minutes, while others scrub their teeth with the fruit.
Like all the other remedies, this one too comes with a warning. As strawberries are a mildly acidic fruit, they are likely to soften the enamel of the teeth. To reduce any possible damage, one should wait at least 15 minutes before brushing, or they may run the risk of washing off some of the enamel. However, strawberries are a sweet fruit, so brushing is a must.
While many swear by these home remedies, (claims exist that they have been handed down through generation!), other dispute their effectiveness and say they actually cause damage. The safest course of action is to consult your dentist about the use of these substances, and try to avoid all those pitfalls that lead to tooth discoloration.