The transition from pearly whites to ugly yellows can be hard to live with even if you are not a celebrity constantly under media scrutiny.
After all, with the selfie culture at its zenith, you are never more than a few seconds away from having your picture clicked, and the last thing any of us wants to do is flash our gnarly gnashers on Facebook.
Your pearly whites can help you to pave your way into the bedroom and the boardroom!
The problem with butter teeth is not just about aesthetics. In a recent survey, nearly 30% millennials reported that their professional prospects were being marred by their less than perfect teeth, while almost 75% respondents to a Chicago Tribune survey said that discolored teeth can impact career success.
This may seem like an exaggeration till you turn your attention to a psychological study in which researchers concluded that those chompers are to humans what ornamental features are to other animals.
So, discolored teeth will not only kill your chances of a second date but will also create a hindrance in your way to the second round of job/promotion interviews.
In fact, researchers who conducted a study in Ontario to understand the link between poor dental appearances concluded that people with stained chewers are perceived to have poor lifestyle choices and dietary habits.
Moreover, discolored teeth, even if they are otherwise healthy, are considered an indication of both poor physical and financial health.
When you consider all that, it’s no wonder that Americans spend a whopping $11 billion annually on teeth whitening products and services.
But, what if I tell you that with patience and perseverance and the right blend of essential oils, you can keep those pearlies dazzling and even transform yellow grinders to naturally white and beautiful teeth?
Yes, it is possible, but first, let us talk about how and why those ivories go all lack luster and yellow on you.
Why Do Teeth Become Yellow?
Naturally, your teeth are a combination of varying shades of yellow and grey. The bluish grey tone comes courtesy of the enamel, which is the outermost, semi-translucent layer of your teeth. The yellow is attributed to dentin that sits right below the enamel.
If you notice, the blue of the enamel and the yellow of the dentin neutralize each other, creating an off-white shade. Anything that influences the natural hue of either of these layers leads to teeth discoloration.
Generally, extrinsic stains that only impact the enamel are quite easy to get rid of. But, it can be hard even for dentists to deal with intrinsic stains that impact the natural color of the dentin. Factors that cause these stains include:
The extrinsic stains
- Dentists say that any food item or beverage that can stain your shirt will also leave your teeth discolored. So, tea, coffee, wine, sodas, health drinks, berries, tomatoes and curry spices can all contribute to your butter teeth.
- If you are not diligent about brushing and flossing regularly, you give the stain-causing compounds more time to leave your teeth tarnished. Of course, the addition of plaque buildup simply adds to your dental woes.
- After poor oral hygiene and stain-causing edibles, smoking is the third most common cause of discolored teeth. The nicotine and the tar from tobacco smoke cause distinct yellow-brown stains on the enamel, which cannot be removed by brushing and flossing.
- Certain types of dental treatments and the compounds used in them can give your chompers a gray-black appearance. The main culprit is almost always silver sulfide, which is often used in amalgam restoration.
The intrinsic stains
- Your genes remain unbeatable on this front as well. If one or both your parents had yellow teeth, chances are that you may have ended with the gnarly gnasher gene as well.
- Radiation and chemotherapy to treat cancers of the head and the neck are known to impact the color of dentin and the health of tooth enamel.
- Antihistamines, antihypertensive drugs, antipsychotic medication as well as antibiotics like doxycycline and tetracycline can leave your teeth with distinct yellow-brown stains.
The damage done
- Because enamel is the outermost layer of your teeth, it is the first to show signs of wear. Age, frequent consumption of acidic food items and the use of abrasive dental cleaning products can all cause the enamel to get thinner, allowing the yellow dentin to peak out more conspicuously from underneath.
- Any damage to the teeth or the enamel caused by physical impact like an injury or teeth grinding has a bearing on the structural integrity of this outermost layer. Consequently, stain-causing compounds tend to seep in deeper causing obstinate discoloration.
- Excess fluoride exposure can cause the teeth to develop distinct yellow, white spots. Children are the only ones susceptible to fluorosis. And once their teeth develop these spots, they are impossible to remove even in adulthood. Teeth whitening only works for mild cases of fluorosis. For moderate to severe staining, veneers are the only option.
Why Use Essential Oils For Teeth Whitening?
I could start by telling you that essential oils are all natural and that they do work but then, most people ask me if the results will be as remarkable as those of a professional teeth whitening session and how much time it takes to go from butter yellow teeth to milk white teeth.
So, I reckoned that it would make sense to first talk about the pitfalls of other teeth whitening methods.
- It’s all about money honey: At $500-$1000 a pop, a teeth whitening session at a dental practice can hardly be called cheap. But, if you are looking for “Holy Moly, from where did you get the new set of chompers” results, be willing to shell out that much. Only this type of a treatment can lighten the color of your teeth by as much as 12-15 shades in a single one hour sitting. Unfortunately, not all of us can afford the treatment, particularly if dental insurance does not cover it.
- Teeth whitening may not be for you: Let me put it this way, regular teeth whitening only works if you have otherwise perfect and healthy teeth. Have fillings, crowns, very dark stains and/or cavities? Well, then teeth whitening either may not work for you or will cost way more than $1000.
- It’s not a permanent: Even after spending a small fortune to turn your pearlies whiter, the results will not be permanent. So, you will have to go in for touch ups and repeat sessions as and when required.
- The results can be short-lived: If you can’t give up on your cuppa or smoking, you may start losing the dazzling whiteness in as little as a month.
- Then, there are the side effects: Because teeth whitening basically involves the use of hydrogen peroxide in high concentration, the procedure can cause gum irritation and teeth sensitivity. Although the side effects are temporary, if you are already battling these conditions, teeth whitening may not be right for you.
- You can go overboard with it: You can overdo things when it comes to teeth whitening and that will leave you with blue tinged chompers.
At home/OTC treatments cost between $50 and $100 but the results will not be as stunning. Plus, we are still talking hydrogen peroxide here, so you will still have all the other problems to contend with. Now, let me tell you why essential oils have an edge over these treatment options.
- They have been using them secretly: D-limonene, which can found in all citrus oils, has long been used in commercial dental whitening products such as tooth paste and mouth washes for its ability to get rid of dental stains.
- More than just a cosmetic treatment: Yellow teeth are not necessarily unhealthy, but unhealthy teeth are almost always discolored. With essential oils, you are opting for a complete oral care solution as these extracts can deal with harmful bacteria, cavities, gum problems, bad breath and other dental issues.
- Low risk of things going awry: Because this is a gentle approach to teeth whitening, you don’t risk ending with fangs that are entirely too white to be natural. Plus, there is no chance of significant difference in the color of your teeth and the crowns and fillings that may have.
- Affordable: Most essential oils for teeth whitening and oral health can be bought for a few bucks and they last for a while.
- Can be used as treatment or maintenance: These extracts can be used to retain the results after professional teeth whitening, as a preventative measure and as a treatment for mild to moderate dental stains.
Yes, you will need to be patient and persistent when using essential oils for teeth whitening. However, since the results come gradually, they not only seem more natural but also present a lower risk of color variation.
Best Essential Oils To Whiten Teeth
A rich source of limonene, this essential oil can whiten those chompers without adversely impacting the enamel. Because the oil is extracted from the peel and the pith of lemons and not the juicy vesicles, you don’t have to worry about the citric acid content of this ingredient. So, you get the whitening effect without damage to the enamel.
Moreover, lemon essential oil is a strong astringent and offers antimicrobial properties to boot. So, it can help in maintaining oral hygiene. Plus, its ability to boost cellular regeneration can be used against receding gums.
Another citrus extract, grapefruit essential oil not only offers all the benefits of lemon essential oil but also helps to tone down the inflammation associated with periodontal ailments. In addition, it has notable antimicrobial properties that can be used to kill cavity and disease causing germs in the mouth.
Apart from ridding the teeth of food stains, this oil also helps to cut through the bacterial biofilm that eventually turns into plaque.
3. Sweet orange
With this essential oil, you get all the benefits of the extracts listed above and a fantastic flavor that doubles up as the perfect “wake me up”. Furthermore, sweet orange essential oil blends exceptionally well with most other extracts used in dental care.
If that is not enough, this oil is also an effective digestive aid. Put all these health benefits together and you get the ideal extract for an after-meal mouth spray/wash.
Minty, smooch-worthy breath is just one of the benefits of peppermint essential oil, for which it gets routinely used in mouth washes, toothpaste and mints. But did you know that the minty freshness of this oil is lethal to anaerobic bacteria?
Yes, we are talking about the critters that can survive in low oxygen environments like the inside of your mouth and even the gums. Plus, the cooling effect of the oil helps to soothe the gums and improves circulation to the soft tissue, which keeps the gums and tooth pulp well nourished. So, you get both whiter and stronger teeth with this one.
Perhaps the oldest and most popular natural ingredient for dental care, clove essential oil remains as popular today as it was hundreds of years ago. The painkilling abilities of this oil are nothing short of legendary, so you can count on it to numb the nerve pain caused by dental problems.
Clove essential oil not only alleviates the pain, but also has the antimicrobial properties to deal with the cause of the discomfort. It is particularly effective against mutant bacterial strains that cannot be killed with available antibiotics. So, this extract can help to keep your mouth and gums healthy and your teeth free of cavities, plaque and stains.
In addition to these, you can also use cinnamon bark, tea tree, turmeric and lemon grass essential oils for maintaining oral health and hygiene and for killing germs that cause dental problems.
5 Essential Oil Recipes For Teeth Whitening
1. Keep stains away mouth wash
One of the best ways to deal with teeth discoloration is to stop the stain-causing compounds from making a mark on your chompers. Fortunately, you don’t have to give up your favorite foods or even healthy beverages, read tea and herbal infusion, for that. A natural, teeth whitening mouth wash will do the trick. This is what you will need:
- 50 – 100 ml water (distilled or boiled and cooled)
- A pinch of cinnamon powder
- ½ tsp licorice root powder or extract (liquid extract)
- 2 drops each sweet orange and peppermint essential oils
Mix all the ingredients together and carry the mouth wash along with you in a small bottle. Give the bottle a good shake before taking a swig out of it. Swirl the liquid around in your mouth for 2-3 minutes and then spit. Repeat 1-2 times. Use the mouthwash up to twice a day, preferably after you have downed your quota of java for the morning and the afternoon. Make a fresh batch every day.
2. Mouth freshener plus teeth whitener
Unless curry is on the lunch menu or you intend to consume teeth staining beverages/food items, a few rounds of water swishing will help to get rid of the dark organic compounds that cause discoloration as well as those that lead to bad breath. But, if you want more, here is a mouth freshener recipe that comes from the East. You will need:
- 2-3 tsp fennel seeds (can be found at most specialty food stores, buy unroasted seeds that are a light green)
- 1 cardamom (optional)
- 1 drop lemon essential oil
Remove the fennel seeds in a small bowl. If using cardamom, crush a pod in the mortar for about a minute and mix the coarse powder with the fennel seeds. Pour the drop of lemon oil in a spoon and move it about, so as to coat as much of the inner surface of the spoon as you can. Then, mix the fennel seeds with the oil coated spoon. This way the oil gets more coating power and most, if not all, seeds get treated to its lemony goodness.
Carry this natural mouth freshener in a small bottle or jar and enjoy after every meal. Yes, the chewing and the taste do take a bit of getting used to. But, you get to take a giant swig of water once you have chomped it all down, and you only have to chew on about 1/2 or 1 tsp at a time. The mixture is not only a fantastic teeth whitener and mouth freshener but also a potent digestive aid. Make a fresh batch every alternate day.
3. Sparkly white teeth gel
This one is for when you need a burst of whitening on the double. It is easy to make, non-abrasive and offers conspicuous results within 3-4 uses. In fact, you can use this treatment every day for 15 days and then follow up with another month of alternate day use to get rid of stubborn yellowing. For the gel, you will need:
- 1 tbsp aloe juice
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1-1.5 tsp licorice root powder
- ½ tsp hydrogen peroxide (10%- 15%) (optional) (don’t use if you have sensitive teeth or have experienced sensitivity due to teeth whitening treatment before)
- 3 drops each of grapefruit and sweet orange essential oils
Mix all the ingredients to form a thick syrup-like paste (cake batter consistency). Dry your teeth using paper towels and cover the insides of the teeth whitening trays with a generous coating of the paste. Next, apply some of the paste on your front teeth (top and bottom rows) with a Q-tip or with your finger and then fit the trays on them.
Allow the paste to work on your teeth for 20 minutes if using hydrogen peroxide and 30 minutes if not using it. After treatment, rinse your mouth a few times with luke warm water. Refrigerate the remaining gel and use within 2 days.
4. Whitest pearlies toothpaste
Whether you have naturally sparkly pearlies or owe the dazzle to your dentist, here is a simple recipe that will help you to keep those chompers looking like a million bucks. You will need:
- 2 tbsp Bentonite/Kaolin clay
- 1-2 tbsp coconut oil
- 3 drops grapefruit essential oil
- 1 drop each of lemongrass and clove essential oils
- Raw honey to taste (1 tsp usually suffices)
Mix all the ingredients together to make a thick paste. It is supposed to replace your toothpaste, so you know what consistency to go for. Store in a dark colored glass jar. Use a soft brush with this natural tooth paste. Brush your teeth as you would normally but rinse your mouth after 2-3 minutes of brushing, which will give the ingredients enough time to work on removing the stains. Rinse with warm water.
5. Weekly treatment for a WOW smile
This recipe is specifically meant to get rid of superficial dental stains. Because the formulation is abrasive, use this only once a week and don’t use it within 24 hours (before or after) of any treatment/product that used peroxide (hydrogen or carbamide). This is what you need:
- 1 tsp activated charcoal (coconut or walnut shell are the best)
- 1 tsp orange/lemon/pomegranate peel powder (you can dry the fruit rind at home and make some powder or buy it online)
- 2 drops each of grapefruit and sweet orange essential oils
- 1 drop peppermint essential oil
Mix the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl and set aside. Pour the oil in a small bowl and whisk well. Add the oil blend to the powders one drop at a time. Use a stirrer or wooden chopstick to stir the mixture thoroughly after pouring in each drop. Once you run out of the oil blend, give the mixture one last round of stirring and remove into a dark colored glass jar.
To use, apply all over your teeth with your index finger, using your finger pad to rub the powder against the surface of your teeth. If you normally use a hard bristled tooth brush, you can do this with a soft bristled version. But, if you have sensitive teeth, a problem with bleeding gums or can only stand to brush with a soft bristled tooth brush, stick to applying the powder with your fingers.
Run through a heaped teaspoon of the dental powder. Let it remain on your teeth for 1-2 minutes then rinse your mouth with regular water. At least for a few hours, stay away from food items and beverages that are too hot or too cold. Also for 24 hours after this treatment avoid the consumption of staining foods and beverages.
Home Remedies To Whiten Teeth
Here is a list of home remedies to whiten teeth naturally:
1. Citrus peels for a sparkling smile
Normally, orange, lime, lemon and grapefruit rinds are usually tossed into the garbage bin, but did you know that is where the bulk of the nutrients lie? The best part is that these peels don’t contain citric acid that can prove damaging to the enamel of your teeth.
So, after you have enjoyed that juicy citrus fruit, turn the peel and the pith into a paste by using the food processor. Add just a wee bit of honey to the paste and use it in a teeth whitening tray. If you don’t have dental trays handy, simply use some aluminum foil to keep the peel paste against your teeth for long enough to make a difference, which should be about 15-20 minutes. If you intend to use this recipe often, I highly recommend that you invest in dental trays.
2. Oil pulling your way to whiter teeth
Oil pulling is not just great for dental hygiene and health but also effective for keeping those pearlies sparkling. The thing with oil swishing is that it even gets to those stains that don’t respond to water rinsing. You can use sesame or coconut oil, but don’t forget to mix ¼ tsp of licorice root powder with the oil and then go ahead with the swishing. This way you get all the benefits of the oil and the extra whitening effect of licorice root.
3. Of basil and bay
Don’t want to spend a lot on teeth whitening or aren’t in the mood to buy the natural ingredients needed for at-home treatment? Well, look no further than your kitchen and pantry. Throw some basil leaves (fresh) and 1 bay leaf into the mortar. Invest about 2 minutes in a round of sound thrashing, so that you end up with a paste of the leaves. Add a teaspoon of honey or mustard oil (carrier) to this paste and brush your teeth with it. You can store what remains of the paste in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
4. Baking soda for dental blotches
When you don’t have any other ingredient around, good ol’ baking soda will do the trick. Now, a lot of people recommend adding an acidic ingredient to the baking soda, like lemon juice.
The problem is that the abrasiveness of baking soda alone can be too much to handle for some people. Adding an acid to the mix can really push things too far and cause significant enamel damage and teeth sensitivity. So, stick to half a teaspoon of baking soda mixed with some water. Brush your teeth with this mixture to get rid of surface stains.
5. Lemony treatment
If you have absolutely nothing else on hand to work with, opt for this treatment. Use a lemon squeezer to get all the juice out of one half of a lemon. Use the juice in your cooking because our plans are for the juiced out half. Use a spoon to remove as much of the inside flesh of the lemon as you can.
Then, put 2-3 drops of cooking oil on the juiced out rind and rub it against your front teeth (juicy side against your teeth). Continue to rub for 2-3 minutes then rinse your mouth with regular water. Don’t brush your teeth after this treatment for 8-12 hrs.
6. Apples and bananas
You can also use the malic acid in green apples for teeth whitening. You will need a few tablespoons of green apple juice (fresh and homemade). Soak strips of cotton wool in the juice and place against your teeth, as you lie down. Keep the strips against your teeth for about 10-15 minutes and then rinse your mouth. As far as bananas go, you will need the skin of the fruit and not the flesh.
Rub the skin of the banana on your teeth, with the inner white surface touching your teeth. You may need to cut the banana peel into small pieces for convenience. Rub all along your front teeth for 10-15 minutes and then rinse your mouth. The banana peel treatment is one of the gentlest teeth whitening techniques, so you can use it on sensitive teeth as well.
Lifestyle Changes For Whiter Teeth
Let’s not forget that most of those stains are attributed to our dietary habits and lifestyle choices. So, making a few changes in the right direction will not just help to prevent teeth discoloration but will also lighten the existing yellow tone. The best part is that these changes are easy to make and healthy all around. Here is what you need to do:
- Keep your chompers hydrated: A dry mouth is a thriving environment for bacteria and the biofilm they build, which eventually turns into plaque. So, give your saliva glands a helping hand by sipping on some water every couple of minutes. The internal hydration you get will do your teeth as much good as the water bath from the outside.
- Eat right for white teeth: Crunchy fruits and vegetables like celery, apples, carrots, cucumber and pears have just the right amount of abrasiveness to keep your teeth free of stains and plaque buildup. Plus, the nutrients in these fruits will go a long way in improving dental health.
- Keep the acids away: Whenever you consume acidic fruit items or beverages like fruits and fruit juices, have a few sips of water to remove the acid from your mouth. This will minimize the enamel wear over time.
- Go white with your beverages: If you can’t cut down on your tea or coffee consumption, make it a point to add some milk to the beverage. The fats in milk (dairy or plant based) limit the stain-causing potential of these beverages. In fact, the coating of lipids on your teeth also helps in the easy removal of stain-causing compounds.
- Give your teeth the nutrients they need: Supplementing with calcium, magnesium, vitamin D3, and K2 and collagen can help to re-mineralize your teeth and strengthen the enamel, thus preventing and limiting age related teeth discoloration.
Here’s all you need to know about teeth whitening. I’d love to hear what has worked for you and/or if you have any recipes to share.