Who doesn’t want to have a beautiful smile with pearly white teeth?
Plenty of ways to whiten teeth exist these days, but are they actually safe? That is the question…
Over the years, as I have learned more and more about clean eating, I have become increasingly aware of the dangerous toxins lurking not only in packaged foods, but also in cosmetics, skin care, hair care, house cleaning supplies…and even oral care. For example, I no longer use fluoride toothpaste because fluoride is a known neurotoxin (1). Fluoride has also been linked to thyroid problems, by the way (2). (Note: For the record, my favorite non-toxic natural toothpaste— which is not only free of fluoride but also free from the carrageenan and sulfites/ sulfates found in conventional toothpaste—is Redmond Earthpaste Cinnamon, in the photo to the left.)
Although I most certainly want a lovely white smile, I have become increasingly skeptical of the many ways to whiten teeth that are advertised these days, especially after learning that some teeth-whitening methods can damage enamel and lead to translucent teeth that end up looking grey/ blue in color. Not exactly what I want my teeth to look like!
In the past, if I thought my teeth needed a whitening boost I would just grab any over-the-counter, conventional teeth-whitening gel and not even think twice about the fact I could be damaging my teeth. But in the last few years my teeth-whitening “regimen” has consisted only of all-natural baking soda mixed in with my toxin-free toothpaste. This has actually done a pretty darn good job if I do say so myself! Other people must think so too because from time to time I am asked what I do to get my teeth so white.
From Black to White
Even more recently, I discovered the INCREDIBLE natural teeth whitening benefits of Activated Charcoal (in photo below.) This stuff is rather messy and I don’t advise wearing good clothes when you do it, but as far as natural ways to whiten teeth go, charcoal whitening might be the absolute very best method. Not only does it whiten and brighten, it also removes teeth stains when you brush it off.
For a while I was buying charcoal capsules, breaking them open and then dumping the contents onto my toothbrush. I find the jar of charcoal to be much more convenient and also more cost effective though.
A quick word of warning: it will temporarily turn your teeth an alarming black. But trust me, it works WONDERS. Just check out some of the reviews and before/ after photos on Amazon! In addition to the baking soda and toothpaste regimen, I do the charcoal teeth whitening once a week.
However, when I tell people about my natural teeth-whitening methods I can see their eyebrows raise in skepticism–as if I am not disclosing the whole teeth whitening “secret.” To be honest, I have been a bit mystified myself as to how my natural teeth-whitening regimen could be as effective as it has been, especially because I was certain some of the things I consume regularly, such as green tea and strawberries. would most definitely contribute to teeth yellowing. But, it turns out I have actually been on a “teeth whitening diet” all along and didn’t even know it!
Dentist Reveals Surprising Ways to Whiten Teeth with 6 Foods
Through a mutual friend, I was recently introduced to Kenneth B. Mak, DDS, who practices general and cosmetic dentistry in Los Angeles. Dr. Mak not only has a passion for oral health, but also for clean eating. Since he is among the increasing number of dentists who endorse nutrition for healthy teeth, I was very excited to see if he might be able to contribute an article about natural oral health care for Clean Cuisine. When we were brainstorming ideas I asked if there were any foods that had teeth-whitening potential. His answer—which I was surprised by—was yes!
According to Dr. Mak, there are many nutritious foods that have teeth-whitening capabilities. So, if you are looking for the absolute safest and healthiest way to naturally whiten your teeth, adding the following 6 foods to your diet can help. Start with food #1 for immediate results…
1. Strawberries Although you certainly wouldn’t think a luscious red fruit that stains your clothes could help whiten your teeth, it turns out strawberries have amazing teeth-whitening potential. The malic acid in strawberries is a natural astringent that removes surface tooth discoloration. For instant teeth-whitening results, simply mash a whole strawberry and then rub it directly on your teeth with your fingertip for about a minute (supposedly Tyra Banks did this live on her show a while back). You will then want to rinse with filtered water and floss to remove seeds. Your teeth will be instantly whiter. Imagine that.
2. Raw Nuts & Seeds Raw nuts and seeds are already a darling of our anti-inflammatory Clean Cuisine nutrition program due to their super clean protein and unrefined source of good “whole” fats, but according to Dr, Mak, they also help whiten our teeth. Turns out, biting down on these lightly abrasive, solid foods rubs off plaque and stains from your teeth. If you haven’t already, be sure to add a serving of these enamel-friendly foods to your diet everyday.
3. Apples The old adage that an apple a day keeps the doctor away – may keep the whitening dentist away too. Apple’s high water content increases the production of saliva, diluting and neutralizing bacteria that can cause bad breath and plaque. As an added bonus, a crispy apple strengthens gums too.
4. Broccoli Okay, so this may not be sexiest food on the list for everyone, but leafy green lovers, you are in luck. The florets on the ends of the broccoli stalks act as a natural stand in for a toothbrush.
5. Oranges This tropical fruit contains citrus, which is a natural tooth-brightener / whitener. Although citrus is an acid that wears away tooth enamel if ingested in sizeable doses, eating “whole” oranges provides a gentle and safe way of getting the right dose of citrus to naturally brighten and whiten teeth without the risk of getting too much acid. For best results, Dr. Mak suggests swishing your mouth with some filtered water to dilute the acidity after your orange treat.
- Note: we suggest you avoid orange juice—not only will orange juice provide too much acid, it is not optimal for a number of other reasons. Click HERE to read more on why eating “whole” oranges is much healthier than drinking orange juice.
6. Green Tea This one totally shocked me! If you have our Clean Cuisine book then you know REAL green tea (sorry Lipton) is an important part of our overall anti-inflammatory nutrition program. We recommend green tea for so many reasons (you can read more about the benefits of green tea and how to make sure you are getting the real deal “good stuff” HERE), but teeth-whitening and oral health wasn’t one of them, until now! According to Dr. Mak, the catechins in green tea kill the bacteria in your mouth that turn sugar into sticky plaque that damage tooth enamel and stain teeth. Catechins also wipe out the bacteria that cause bad breath. Apparently, drinking green tea will have you looking better and smelling better too (wink).
So there you have it….attaining brighter, whiter teeth need not require nasty-tasting whitening gels or chemicals after all. You can simply eat your way to a more beautiful smile.
A Special Thank you Dr. Mak!!
We at Clean Cuisine want to extend a special thank you to Kenneth B. Mak, DDS for his contribution to this article and for his natural tips on safe ways to whiten teeth. Dr. Mak practices general and cosmetic dentistry in Los Angeles along with Dr. Rodney Kleiger and Dr. Dennis DeMesa at MKD Dentistry. He is a frequent contributor to several online publications, where he’s able to express his passion for helping people make good decisions about their oral health and eating habits. For more information or to contact Dr. Mak, please visit http://www.MKDDentistry.com You can also connect with Dr. Mak on Google+.
Do You Have Any Natural Oral Health Tips or Questions for Dr. Mak? If So, Please Leave a Comment Below…
1. Grandjean P, Landrigan PJ. “Neurobehavioral effects of developmental toxicity.” Lancet Neurol. 2014 Mar;13(3):330-8. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(13)70278-3. Epub 2014 Feb 17.
2. Liu H, et al. “The effects and underlying mechanism of excessive iodine on the excessive fluoride-induced thyroid cytotoxicity.” Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 2014 Jul;38(1):332-40. doi: 10.1016/j.etap.2014.06.008. Epub 2014 Jun 27.