In 2015, Americans alone spent over $11 billion on teeth
whitening, including over $1.4 billion on at-home whitening
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,
then this article lists many options that are both natural and
What Causes Teeth to Look Yellow?
There are multiple factors that 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 build-up 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 away, revealing the dentin underneath. Dentin is a
naturally yellow, bony tissue that lies underneath the enamel.
Here are 7 simple ways you can naturally whiten your teeth.
1. Try Oil Pulling
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 (2).
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 additional
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
one week (8).
Unfortunately, there are no scientific studies to prove that
oil pulling whitens your teeth. However, it’s a safe practice
and definitely 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 a full 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 is safe to do daily.
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Bottom Line: Coconut oil pulling involves
swishing oil in your mouth for 15–20 minutes to remove
bacteria. Practicing this daily can reduce plaque and may
brighten your teeth.
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
Additionally, baking soda creates an alkaline environment in
your mouth, which prevents bacteria from growing (9).
This is not a remedy that will whiten your teeth overnight, but
you should notice a difference in the appearance of your teeth
Science has not yet proven that brushing with plain baking soda
will whiten your teeth, but several studies show that
toothpaste with 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
Furthermore, a review of five studies found that toothpastes
containing baking soda removed plaque from teeth more
effectively than non-baking soda toothpastes (11).
To use this remedy, mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 2
water and brush your teeth with the paste. You can do this
a few times per week.
Bottom Line: Brushing with a paste made with
baking soda and water can reduce bacteria in your mouth and
buff away surface stains.
3. Use Hydrogen Peroxide
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, there aren’t any studies to show the effects of
rinsing or brushing with hydrogen peroxide alone, but several
studies have analyzed commercial toothpastes containing
One study found that a toothpaste containing baking soda and 1%
hydrogen peroxide led to significantly whiter teeth (13).
Another study found that brushing with a commercial toothpaste
containing baking soda and peroxide twice per day led to 62%
whiter teeth in six weeks (14).
However, there are some questions regarding the safety of
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 (15, 16, 17, 18, 19).
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.
Bottom Line: Hydrogen peroxide is a natural
bleaching agent and can kill bacteria in your mouth. You can
use it as a mouthwash or mix it with baking soda to form a
4. Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has been used for centuries as a
disinfectant and natural cleaning product.
Acetic acid, which is the main active ingredient
in apple cider vinegar, effectively kills bacteria. The
antibacterial property of vinegar is what makes it useful for
cleaning your mouth and whitening your teeth (20, 21, 22, 23).
One study performed on cow teeth found that apple cider vinegar
does have a bleaching effect on teeth. However, they also found
that vinegar may soften the teeth (24).
The acetic acid in vinegar has the potential to erode the
enamel on your teeth. For this reason, you should not use apple
cider vinegar every day. You should also limit the amount of
time that apple cider vinegar is in contact with your teeth
To use it as a mouthwash, dilute it with water and swish it
around in your mouth for several minutes. Make sure to rinse
your mouth with plain water afterwards.
Bottom Line: Apple cider vinegar has
antibacterial properties that may help whiten your teeth.
However, overuse of vinegar can also erode the enamel on your
teeth, so limit its use to a few times per week.
5. Use 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 your teeth, crunchy,
raw fruits and vegetables can help rub plaque away as you chew.
In particular, 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
However, this remedy has not been completely backed up by
While strawberries may help exfoliate your teeth and make them
appear whiter, they are unlikely to penetrate the stains on
A recent study found that a strawberry and baking soda mixture
produced very little color change in teeth, compared to
commercial whitening products (26).
If you decide to give this method a try, limit its use to a few
times per week.
To use this remedy, smash up a fresh strawberry, combine it
with baking soda and brush the mixture on your teeth.
Some claim that pineapple
can whiten teeth.
However, there is no evidence that eating pineapples produces
the same effect.
Bottom Line: Certain fruits may have
properties that help whiten teeth. Regularly consume raw
fruits and vegetables to help rub off plaque and keep your
teeth looking bright.
6. Prevent Tooth Stains Before They Happen
Your teeth naturally yellow as you age, but there are some
things you can do to 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 soon after consuming one of these
foods or beverages to limit their effects on the color of your
Additionally, avoid smoking and chewing tobacco, both of which
can cause tooth discoloration.
Limit Sugar in Your Diet
If you want whiter teeth, cut back on your sugar
When you do consume a sugary food, brush your teeth soon after
Get Plenty of Calcium in Your Diet
Some tooth discoloration is caused by enamel eroding away and
exposing the dentin underneath, which is yellow in color.
Therefore, anything you do to strengthen the enamel of your
teeth will help keep your teeth pearly white.
Bottom Line: A healthy diet with enough
calcium can help prevent your teeth from becoming yellow.
Brushing your teeth soon after you eat can also help prevent
7. Don’t Underestimate the Value of Brushing and Flossing
While some tooth discoloration comes naturally with age, it is
largely a result of plaque build-up.
Regular brushing and flossing can help your teeth stay white by
reducing bacteria in your mouth and preventing plaque build-up.
Toothpaste gently rubs out stains on your teeth, and flossing
removes bacteria that lead to plaque.
Regular dental cleanings can also help your teeth stay clean
Bottom Line: Daily brushing and flossing,
along with regular cleanings at the dentist’s office, prevent
the build-up of yellowing plaque on your teeth.
Other Methods That Are Not Proven
There are a few other natural teeth whitening methods, but
there is no scientific evidence to prove that they are
effective or safe.
Here are some of the unproven methods:
Activated charcoal: Brushing with powdered
charcoal supposedly pulls toxins from the mouth and removes
stains from teeth.
Kaolin clay: Proponents of this method claim
that brushing with clay helps remove stains from teeth.
Fruit peels: Rubbing orange, lemon or banana
peels on your teeth is claimed to make them whiter.
Advocates of these methods claim they make teeth significantly
whiter, but no studies have evaluated their effectiveness. This
also means that they have not been tested for side effects when
used on teeth.
Bottom Line: Activated charcoal, kaolin clay
and fruit peels may help whiten your teeth, but no studies
have evaluated the safety or effectiveness of these methods.
Take Home Message
There are several natural methods to help whiten your teeth.
Most of these remedies work by gently removing surface stains
on your teeth.
However, most dentists offer whitening treatments that are much
stronger than these natural remedies. They involve bleaching
the teeth, which may be more effective for severe tooth