If your teeth need a little brightening, but you’d prefer to skip whitening treatments, you’re in luck. Here are 7 natural remedies for whiter teeth that you may already have in your kitchen.
—Jacqueline Lanigan, D.M.D.
Just chewing on apples helps scrub your teeth. Apples also have a high concentration of malic acid, which is used in some toothpastes. Malic acid increases saliva, which cleans your teeth and helps remove stains, according to a 2013 study conducted at the University of Grenada (Spain).
Pineapple is the only food that naturally contains bromelain—a compound with anti-inflammatory and cleansing properties. A recent study in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene found that bromelain is an effective ingredient in a stain-removing toothpaste.
Broccoli is high in fiber, and eating lots of fiber helps reduce inflammation in your mouth (along with the rest of your body). Eating crisp raw broccoli can help clean and polish your teeth and, according to research in the European Journal of Dentistry, the iron in broccoli has the added benefit of providing a wall of protection for your teeth against the enamel-degrading acid that’s produced by bacteria. This helps prevent stains and cavities.
You may think raisins are bad for your teeth because of their sticky sweetness, but they’re actually protective. Research shows that bran cereal with raisins helps clean the mouth faster than the same cereal without raisins. Chewing raisins stimulates saliva, which helps prevent plaque, stains and cavities from developing by neutralizing the acidic environment created by other foods and bacteria in your mouth.
Here’s another reason to smile for the camera and "say cheese." Cheese helps keep your teeth strong with minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus, and protein that protects tooth enamel. According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the lactic acid in cheese is also protective against tooth decay. Plus, hard cheeses help clean your teeth by stimulating saliva.
Drinking water throughout the day promotes saliva production, which in turn helps keep your pearly whites, well—white. Sipping water during and after a meal also helps rinse your mouth of any debris and loose plaque.
Like apples, strawberries also contain malic acid, and they have the added benefit of ellagitannins, antioxidants that can help reduce stain-attracting bacteria and inflammation in your mouth. And, strawberries’ vitamin C can help prevent gum inflammation and periodontal disease.