Natural, vegan and cruelty-free are three terms that consumers use when they look for products that are not only safe to use but also environmentally friendly. There are many products and brands in the oral care arena that are all natural, vegan and cruelty free. This article looks at ways you can naturally whiten your teeth using homemade and natural store-bought products.
Defining Natural and Vegan Tooth Whitening
What does natural mean?
What does natural mean when it comes to teeth whitening and oral care? No federal government agency has ruled on what a manufacturer can and cannot call “natural,” so we are using the commonly agreed-upon definition of natural as “free of artificial or synthetic ingredients.” For the purposes of this article, the methods for teeth whitening will be free from hydrogen peroxide, which is a manufactured chemical.
What does vegan mean?
For a product to be vegan, it must contain no animal products or byproducts. It may contain no meat, no animal parts, and nothing from animals. No honey, no insect silk, no bone products — no byproduct of an animal.
What does cruelty-free mean?
A product that is cruelty free should not have been tested on animals.
How to Whiten Your Teeth Naturally
The most natural way to whiten your teeth is to avoid foods, beverages, and other consumer products that stain your teeth. Don’t smoke; tobacco is one of the worst offenders at staining teeth. The basic rule is if a food, beverage or substance will stain a tablecloth, it will stain your teeth. However, there are some hidden culprits like apples and potatoes that can also stain your teeth.
It’s hard to avoid teeth-staining foods, especially healthy ones like berries and fruits. If you must eat foods that stain, brush your teeth or rinse within 20 or 30 minutes.
Baking soda has long been a key ingredient in at-home tooth-whitening. Baking soda is formally called sodium bicarbonate and it’s actually a form of salt. It’s most commonly found in baked goods because it helps them rise, but it also is used in beauty products including toothpaste.
In fact, when you were growing up and your household ran out of toothpaste, your parents might have concocted a mixture of baking soda and water. It didn’t taste great, but it did the job and your teeth felt clean.
The natural abrasiveness of the baking soda can help remove stains and whiten teeth. The Journal of the American Dental Association states that toothpastes with baking soda are more effective at stain removal than those that contain none.
To make an at-home natural tooth whitening paste from baking soda, mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 3 teaspoons of water and stir to form a paste. Use it as a toothpaste, rinse and spit; don’t swallow.
Baking soda will not lighten your teeth as aggressively as in-office or commercial teeth whitening procedures and products, but it will reduce surface stain and lighten your teeth at least one shade.
Natural whitening toothpaste
The most natural way to whiten your teeth is to make your own tooth whitening toothpaste. We found this recipe on several websites, including SimpleGreenSmoothies.com: 1 part coconut oil, 1 part baking soda, add drops of peppermint essential oil (or any flavor you like) to your taste. Mix into a paste and store in an airtight container. They suggest adding stevia if you prefer a sweeter flavor.
Again, the natural, homemade toothpaste is less effective than commercial teeth whiteners, but it will remove recent stains from your teeth and take your smile up a notch.
Commercial natural whiteners
A number of natural brands have become more available not only in grocery and drug stores but also through online retailers. What was once reserved for health food stores has become much more mainstream and consumers demand cruelty-free, sustainable and natural products.
Developed by a pair of Swiss dentists who are also sisters, vVARDIS is an example of an online oral care brand that caters specifically to people who want a brighter smile and care about protecting the environment. Their products not only whiten teeth but they also protect. Their toothpastes, mouth rinses, and whiteners are all vegan and cruelty free.
Commercially available natural teeth whiteners can lighten your teeth several shades — refer to packaging details and always follow their directions.
Although the following methods do not have any scientific proof that they work, there are a lot of sources that suggest they do. At least, they’ll remove recent stains and prevent buildup. As always, use home remedies with caution and talk to your dentist before undertaking any tooth whitening product. Tooth whiteners, even natural ones, can aggravate gum disease, mouth sores and pain from cavities and some dental work.
Apple cider vinegar: A homemade mouthwash made from apple cider vinegar might make you pucker, but it could whiten your teeth. Be cautious with overusing apple cider vinegar, though, as overuse can weaken your teeth’s enamel. Use it only two or three times a week.
Oil pulling: This ancient technique comes from India, and it’s making somewhat of a comeback. Take a spoonful of any oil, but many recommend coconut oil because it tastes better, and swish it around your mouth. Do not swallow the oil. Push and pull it through your teeth. Spit and rinse with water.
Raw fruits and vegetables: While they’re not necessarily going to whiten your teeth, raw fruits and vegetables can remove plaque when you chew.