Nature provides us with many substances that whiten teeth naturally and harmlessly, with no extra steps beyond eating and drinking necessary to achieve the often long-lost, naturally white state of our teeth! Some foods contribute to overall dental health by providing minerals necessary for strength, and encouraging production of anti-inflammatory agents that fight infection; strong, healthy teeth tend to be naturally whiter than teeth with damaged enamel or surrounded by diseased gums.
Most of these tooth-whitening foods many of us eat, or would like to eat, every day, without even suspecting that they have the power to remove stains on our teeth. These foods include many fruits, dairy products, vegetables, fish and other enjoyable items.
The best fruits for maintaining or restoring dental health and whiter teeth include:
Apples contain a lot of the enzyme malic acid, which serves to increase the production of saliva. Saliva actually cleans teeth, and aids in stain removal. Malic acid is so effective it is one of the ingredients in a few brands of toothpaste. Even just biting into an apple and chewing provides enough scrubbing to cleanse the teeth. An added bonus of eating apples is their ability to prevent bad breath by killing the bacteria that causes it.
Strawberries not only contain malic acid, they also contain antioxidants known as ellagitannins, which decrease inflammation in the mouth by decreasing tooth-staining bacteria. Strawberries also have a lot of Vitamin C, a natural anti-inflammatory which helps to fight and prevent periodontal disease and inflammation of the gums, both of which contribute to dulling the teeth. One author even suggests brushing your teeth and flossing after a five minute mashed strawberry treatment that entails rubbing mashed up strawberries on your teeth!
Among the vegetables that help maintain tooth health and color are broccoli, celery and carrots. These vegetables also stimulate the production of saliva, the mouth’s self-cleaning agent”, and as such help to remove stains on tooth enamel. They are hard and crunchy enough so as to be effective tooth scrubbers, and prevent bad breath by killing acid-producing bacteria. The high fiber content in broccoli contributes to fighting inflammation in the body, including the mouth. The high iron content in broccoli also protects tooth enamel from stains and cavities caused by bacterial acid by acting as a protective wall.
Dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and especially cheese, also help keep teeth white and bright in several ways, including stimulating saliva production. The lactic acid in these products is thought to assist in protecting teeth from decay. The high calcium, protein and phosphorous content in cheese and milk protect against the erosion of tooth enamel by serving to buffer acids. It is also thought that the minerals found on the surface of the teeth are strengthened by eating these foods. Chewing on hard cheese can whiten teeth by cleaning out leftover food and bacteria, and the proteins found in yogurt are thought to “bind to the teeth” and stop cavity-producing bacteria on the spot.
There are other substances that naturally whiten teeth, such as baking soda, an ingredient found in many brands of toothpaste (and used in baking, deodorizing and as an antacid), sugar-free gum and even sugar-free drinks (which can just wash or ‘chew’ away food particles). Fish and flaxseed contain nutrients, including Omega 3 fatty acids (which have powerful anti-inflammatory qualities) which are particularly strengthening, and strong teeth are more resistant to the dulling of bacterial acidity. Even cocoa is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties, and as such can help keep our teeth white by helping to prevent gum disease and tooth decay (remember to brush!). Last but not least, is water; drinking lots of water is perhaps the easiest way to ensure a good flow of saliva, and drinking water after eating has the rather obvious benefit of washing away food particles stuck in teeth and plaque that has come loose.
In light of the many natural ways to cleanse and whiten the teeth (apart from simply brushing and flossing), it does seem possible to avoid harsh tooth whiteners and the accompanying pain. Eating an apple or an orange, for many, might be a more pleasant way of whitening their teeth.
Schedule an appointment at Stratman Family Dentistry today for a dental check-up or a dental cleaning. Discuss any questions you have about professional teeth whitening with our friendly staff.