Changes in the color of your teeth may be subtle and happen gradually. Some yellow color may be inevitable.
Teeth can look more yellow especially as you age. As the outer enamel wears away, the yellowy dentin underneath becomes more visible. Dentin is the calcified tissue beneath the enamel.
If you’re looking to whiten your teeth, you do have some alternatives to conventional methods.
Remedies for yellow teeth
Here are seven natural options for getting rid of yellow teeth. It may be best to choose a few treatments and rotate them throughout the week. Experiment to find a solution that works for you.
1. Brushing your teeth
Your first plan of action should be to brush your teeth more often and in the correct manner. It’s especially important that you brush after consuming foods and drinks that can lead to yellow teeth.
Brush your teeth at least twice a day for two to three minutes at a time. Make sure you get into all of the cracks and crevices. Brush your teeth in a circular motion to ensure you’re protecting your gums. Brush the inside, outside, and chewing surfaces of your teeth.
2. Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide
Using a paste made of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide is said to remove plaque buildup and bacteria to get rid of stains.
Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 2 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide to make a paste. Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after brushing with this paste. You can also use the same ratio of ingredients to make a mouthwash.
A 2012 study found that people who used a toothpaste containing baking soda and peroxide got rid of tooth stains and whitened their teeth. They showed significant improvements after six weeks. Further studies are needed to determine if the results persist after they stop using the toothpaste.
3. Coconut oil pulling
Coconut oil pulling is said to remove plaque and bacteria from the mouth, which helps to whiten teeth. Always use a high quality, organic oil that doesn’t contain harmful ingredients.
Swish 1 to 2 teaspoons of liquid coconut oil in your mouth for 10 to 30 minutes. Don’t let the oil touch the back of your throat. Don’t swallow the oil as it contains toxins and bacteria from your mouth. Spit it into the toilet or a wastepaper basket, as it could clog drains. Rinse your mouth with water and then drink a full glass of water. Then brush your teeth.
There are no specific studies that confirm the teeth whitening effect of oil pulling. However, a 2015 study found that oil pulling using sesame oil and sunflower oil reduced gingivitis caused by plaque. Oil pulling could have a whitening effect on teeth, as plaque buildup can cause teeth to turn yellow. Further studies on the effect of oil pulling with coconut oil are needed.
4. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can be used in very small amounts to whiten teeth.
Make a mouthwash by mixing 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar with 6 ounces of water. Swish the solution for 30 seconds. Then rinse with water and brush your teeth.
Research from 2014 found that apple vinegar has a bleaching effect on cow teeth. However, it should be noted that it has the potential to cause damage to the hardness and surface configuration of teeth. So use it with caution, and only for short amounts of time. More human studies are needed to expand upon these findings.
5. Lemon, orange, or banana peels
Some people claim that rubbing lemon, orange, or banana peels on your teeth will make them whiter. It’s believed that the compound d-limonene, which is found in some fruit peels, will help to white your teeth.
Gently rub the fruit peels on your teeth for about two minutes. Make sure to thoroughly rinse out your mouth and brush your teeth afterward.
Scientific research proving the effectiveness of using fruit peels to make teeth whiter is lacking. However, a study from 2010 looked at the effect of a toothpaste containing 5 percent d-limonene in removing stains from smoking and tea. People who brushed with a toothpaste containing d-limonene combined with a whitening formula twice daily for four weeks significantly reduced smoking stains, though it didn’t remove long-standing smoking stains or tea stains.
Further studies are needed to determine if d-limonene is effective on its own.
A study from 2017 tested the potential of citric acid extracts from four different types of orange peel as a teeth whitener. They were shown to have varying abilities on whitening teeth, with tangerine peel extract achieving the best results.
6. Activated charcoal
You can use activated charcoal to remove stains from your teeth. It’s highly absorbent and is also said to get rid of bacteria and toxins in the mouth.
Open a capsule of activated charcoal and put the contents on your toothbrush. Gently brush your teeth using small circles for two minutes. Be especially careful in the area around your gums as it can be abrasive. Then spit it out.
If your teeth are sensitive or you want to limit the abrasiveness of the charcoal, you can dab it on your teeth. Leave it on for two minutes.
You can also mix activated charcoal with a small amount of water to make a mouthwash. Swish this solution for two minutes, and then spit it out. Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after using activated charcoal.
More scientific evidence is required to investigate the effectiveness of activated charcoal in teeth whitening. Research from 2015 found that activated charcoal was more abrasive than a whitening toothpaste on dental acrylic resins. The researchers didn’t conclude that activated charcoal isn’t suitable for teeth whitening. Its absorbent nature has the potential to remove stains. However, it should be noted that charcoal powder could become embedded in margins or cracks that are especially present in older teeth.
7. Eating fruits and vegetables with a higher water content
It’s said that eating raw fruits and vegetables with a high-water content can help to keep your teeth healthy. The water content is thought to cleanse your teeth and gums of plaque and bacteria that lead to yellow teeth.
Eating crunchy fruits and vegetables at the end of a meal may increase saliva production. This can help to remove food particles that are stuck in your teeth.
While there’s no doubt that a diet high in fruits and vegetables is good for your dental and overall health, there’s not a lot of scientific evidence that supports these claims. That said, eating these healthy foods throughout the day or at the end of a meal certainly won’t do any harm.
Specific scientific studies are needed to confirm these claims. One study showed that using a baking soda and strawberry mix wasn’t effective in whitening teeth.
Research from 2007 found that vitamin C deficiency can increase the severity of periodontitis. While the study didn’t look at the whitening effect of vitamin C on teeth, it links high-plasma vitamin C levels to healthy teeth. The research suggests that high levels of vitamin C can reduce the amount of plaque that causes teeth to become yellow.
A study from 2012 found that a toothpaste containing papain and bromelain extract showed significant stain removal. Papain is an enzyme found in papaya. Bromelain is an enzyme present in pineapple.
Further studies are warranted to expand upon these findings.
What causes yellow teeth?
There are many factors that can cause teeth to turn yellow. Teeth can become yellow from:
- certain foods or drinks, such as blueberries, red wine, coffee, or tea
- a diet high in sugar and simple carbohydrates
- smoking or chewing tobacco
- side effects of certain medications and mouthwashes
- age, as older adults are more likely to have yellow teeth
- mouth trauma
- excessive fluoride use
- poor dental care and oral hygiene
- chronic dry mouth or lack of saliva
The bottom line
Continue to practice good oral hygiene and have regular dental checkups. If you’ve tried these methods without success, your dentist may be able to help you determine if another course of action will be best for you.