Why aren’t we smiling more? According to the Oral Health Foundation, 48% of the population is unhappy with their teeth and 64% blame staining and discolouration as the main reason for this.
What causes teeth to be discoloured and stained?
Not having a good oral care routine contributes massively to the staining and discolouration of teeth. If we aren’t brushing and flossing regularly then plaque and discolouration will build up rapidly, especially if you are eating and drinking foods that are naturally staining like those listed below. Neglecting our teeth also puts you more at risk of developing gingivitis and tooth decay.
Certain food and drink are worse than others. Black tea and coffee both contain tannins which stain our enamel, and the build up over time causes our teeth to take on a yellowish tinge. Citrus foods contribute to eroding enamel causing demineralisation and exposing the dentin below which can cause teeth to look yellow. Sugary foods feed harmful bacteria which create acids that destroy the tooth enamel and can cause tooth decay.
Smoking is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to teeth discolouration. The nicotine and tar in tobacco can stain teeth very quickly and heavy smokers find that if they do not take active steps to remove these stains, over time their teeth can start to turn brown.
Most staining occurs as a natural part of living our lives, but don’t despair there are ways that you can restore your healthy white smile and avoid discolouration, as well as ways to prevent staining from occurring in the future.
Natural teeth whitening
We’re not talking about a fake gleaming white that can only be achieved at the expense of our enamel, but a naturally bright smile of happy, healthy teeth. There are many products out there that claim to whiten teeth and get rid of staining, from DIY home kits to professional packages. However many of these use toxic and abrasive ingredients and overuse can have nasty effects, causing painful sensitivity. Try to avoid teeth whitening materials and procedures that contain any type of highly acidic or etching compound, porcelain laminates and anything that involves the removal of healthy enamel.
Although there seems to be a huge selection of products out there that make big claims, there are also ways that you can effectively whiten your teeth using only safe and natural ingredients from the comfort of your own home.
Brushing and flossing
A good oral hygiene routine is the tried and tested method for retaining a gleaming smile. Maintain a clean oral environment by brushing your teeth before you go to bed and at least one other time throughout the day. Brushing with a natural toothpaste gently buffs and polishes away the stains and plaque that naturally form on our teeth to stop and prevents tartar build up. Using an electric toothbrush is even more effective - our sonic toothbrush even has a timer which tells you when to change sides, making sure you spend enough time cleaning each area of your mouth.
Oil Pulling is used to draw toxins from the mouth by swishing oil around it. The oil collects and traps the bacteria that exists around the gums, pores and tubules within the teeth. Coconut oil is known to be particularly effective due to its natural antibacterial properties and the lauric acid it contains. Lauric acid has both proven to have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial effects which also contribute to fending off tooth decay, leaving you with a healthier and happier smile.
Bicarbonate of Soda
Bicarbonate of soda is the foundation of most commercial toothpaste and has been for hundreds of years, being one of the oldest forms of teeth whitening. It is a natural, mild, abrasive that gets rid of stains and debris on the tooths surface, and after regular use leaves teeth looking whiter and brighter than before. Our toothpaste and tooth powders all contain sodium bicarbonate which we combine with other ingredients to give you an optimum clean. However, you can also use pure bicarbonate of soda as a polish which you can rub straight on to your teeth. NB: overuse of pure bicarbonate of soda can damage your enamel.
Activated Charcoal is a popular ingredient in teeth whitening products. It's absorbent properties mean that it’s perfect for drawing toxins, trapping bacteria and removing stains caused by common culprits such as coffee, tea, wine. The Activated Charcoal removes plaque, cleansing and whitening teeth naturally. It is also, like sodium carbonate, mildly abrasive which polishes away stains and tartar build-up on the teeth. This is why it’s a key ingredient in many of our natural oral care products including our toothpaste, tooth powder and our oil pulling mouthwash making them perfect for achieving that gleaming smile. NB. be careful and read the labels - the purer the activated charcoal is, the more abrasive it is, so using too pure a form too often can be damaging to your teeth, this is why we have created a diluted toothpaste formula that is ideal for everyday use.
Believe it or not, strawberries are great for natural teeth whitening. The berries are not only tasty and full of antioxidants they also contain malic acid which is a natural astringent that removes surface discolourations and stains from your teeth. As well as eating them, you can even try making your own DIY strawberry and bicarbonate of soda whitening paste. Associate professor and researcher at the University of Iowa Dr So Ran Kwon tested using strawberries for teeth whitening. In her 2015 study, she rubbed a paste made from strawberries and baking soda over pulled teeth 3 times a day for 10 days and found that the mixture helped remove plaque and surface debris from teeth. See study here.