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Foods That Whiten and Brighten Your Smile

Foods That Whiten and Brighten Your Smile

Show off your pearly whites by including these foods into your diet

If you’re ready to come back from your lunch break with a smile that’s brighter than the one you left with, you’re in luck, because we’ve consulted with experts to compile a list of foods that make teeth sparkle.

Make Your Smile Sparkle

If you’re ready to come back from your lunch break with a smile that’s brighter than the one you left with, you’re in luck, because we’ve consulted with experts to compile a list of foods that make teeth sparkle.


Eat an applefor shiny, white teeth. Or better yet, crush it up and brush with it, says founder of Organic Healthy Lifestyle Nancy Addison. “Apples and strawberries contain malic acid and vitamin C,” Addison says. “The malic acid is like an astringent that helps remove surface stains, and the vitamin C helps remove plaque. You can brush with a little grated apple once in a while.”

Baking Soda

There’s a reason so many whitening toothpastes contain baking soda. Studies published by the National Institute of Health have proved that baking soda does lighten a tooth’s “yellow hue” over time.


Eating a serving of broccoli will literally make your mouth water, which is good for your teeth, according to Lisa Cohn, medical nutritionist and owner of Park Avenue Nutrition in New York City. “Broccoli makes your mouth produce more saliva, which washes away debris and keeps bacteria and plaque down,” Cohn says.


Carrots are another of those mouthwatering foods, according to Cohn. Plus, their crisp texture acts as a natural exfoliant for surface stains.


The crunch factor of cauliflower is a great way to brush stains away from the surface of teeth. Anything crunchy will also activate saliva production, which is good for washing away potential stains before they start.


Crisp celery naturally buffs teeth and adds to their pearlescence. “The natural fibers, those stringy parts, and crunchy, crispy texture make celery a natural toothbrush,” Cohn says. “Chewing celery helps to remove what's stuck between teeth, helps keep gums healthy, and keeps tooth surface clean.”


While too much fruit juice can potentially weaken teeth, fresh oranges and even orange peel can polish teeth, stimulate gums, and increase saliva production, meaning that oranges not only whiten teeth but help prevent new stains from forming.


Pears are another great food for buffing away surface stains, according to Maddahi. “Pears whiten teeth because they scrub the top layer of enamel to remove stains,” he says.


Strawberries are another good source of malic acid and vitamin C, which keep teeth gleaming and healthy.

13 Foods That Can Whiten Your Teeth Naturally

Products and services that promise to instantly brighten your smile can easily be found on grocery shelves or at the dentist&rsquos office. But before reaching for that home whitening kit or enduring another hour sitting on your dentist&rsquos chair, consider these 13 natural, sometimes unconventional (but often delicious!), tooth-whitening alternatives:

Brighten Your Smile With These Smart Food Choices That Whiten Your Teeth

There’s something refreshing about taking a forward thinking and natural approach to your dental health, and it’s even more exciting when you learn that you can whiten your teeth without harsh chemicals and expensive treatments. For generations, there have been certain foods that people knew that eating would help to whiten your enamel, and we’ve brought some of this age-old wisdom to you in this article. Before you invest in expensive treatments and harsh chemicals to brighten your smile, try the foods on this list for an effective and delicious solution to your dental health!

Strawberries, Not Just For Shortcake
While strawberries may leave a nasty stain on a white tablecloth, the natural acids in them are perfect for clearing up stains on your teeth. While this may sound like a perfect excuse to eat them, you’ll get better results if you mash them up and apply them to your teeth like a paste. After five minutes have passed gobble the paste down and rinse with water followed by brushing and flossing. You may want to consider changing your flavor of toothpaste if you do this, as mint and strawberries don’t play well together.

Celery, Carrots, and Apples
These fruits tend to cause the mouth to emit more saliva, which is fantastic for whitening your teeth as saliva is one of your bodies main weapons in fighting bacteria that cause tooth decay. Additionally, they help kill bacteria that cause bad breath, and the crunchy nature of these snacks also serves as another layer of scrubbing to remove the plaque on your teeth.

Pineapples and Oranges
It’s probably common sense that if the acid in strawberries can help whiten your teeth that the bright citrus flavor of oranges and pineapples were going to behave similarly. The tartness of these fruits brings about the same saliva production as apples, carrots, and celery. Unlike strawberries, however, you’re not going to want to apply them directly to your teeth as the strong acidity can be bad for your enamel.

Baking Soda
Here we have a natural substance that happens to do a great job of removing bacteria, plaque, and tartar from your teeth. Additionally, it does an excellent job of whitening your teeth which is why it’s a favorite ingredient in toothpaste. If you’re really wanting to get a powerful whitening experience try brushing with straight baking soda, but only do this occasionally or risk damaging your teeth.

These natural remedies are just a few of the ways you can take care of your dental health without additional brushing, flossing, or mouthwash. Don’t make the mistake of thinking these will replace those critical practices, but by working some of the above foods into your diet each day, you’ll discover greater health in combination with whiter teeth. If you’re looking for professional guidance, give Dr. Bob Dokhanchi a call at Fox Valley Dental in Aurora, IL today. They’ve been helping patients live great lives with beautiful smiles through their practice by providing excellent dental care and solid advice for day to day living habits to protect your smile.

Foods That Whiten Teeth Naturally

En español | Coffee, tea, red wine and some soda can all stain your teeth and darken your smile. But there are some common foods that can actually help whiten your teeth over time. They’re not as thoroughly effective as professional teeth whitening products—but they are cheap and natural. And that should leave you smiling.

1. Strawberries

They may stain your shirt, but they could work to whiten teeth, since they contain an enzyme called malic acid. Try mashing up strawberries and rubbing them on your teeth. Leave for five minutes then rinse with water and brush and floss as usual.

Crunchy veggies like carrots help clean teeth.

2. Apples, celery and carrots

These healthy fruits and veggies act like natural stain removers by increasing saliva production, which serves as the mouth's self-cleaning agent. They also may kill bacteria that causes bad breath, and their crunch factor works to scrub teeth clean.

Mouth-watering citrus fruits act as a mouth wash.

3. Oranges and pineapples

Eating tart fruits such as oranges and pineapples may cause the mouth to produce more saliva, which washes teeth clean naturally. Beware of using lemons directly on teeth, because too much acidity can damage teeth.

Niday Picture Library/Alamy

Use baking soda to whiten teeth.

4. Baking soda

One 2008 study found toothpastes that contain baking soda — long considered a tooth-whitening home remedy — do a better job of removing plaque than toothpastes without the ingredient.

To try it, your best bet is brushing with a commercial paste that contains the mild abrasive.

Or, once in a while, you can just brush your teeth with baking soda straight from the box.

Oriani Origone/Gallery Stock

Hard cheeses can both protect teeth and clean food particles.

5. Yogurt, milk and cheese

Dairy products contain lactic acid, which may help protect teeth against decay. A study in the journal Dentistry found kids who ate yogurt four times per week had less tooth decay than kids who didn't eat yogurt. Researchers think proteins in yogurt may bind to teeth and prevent them from attack by harmful acids that cause cavities. Hard cheeses are best for whitening, since they help remove food particles as well.

Jennifer Nelson is a Florida-based writer who also writes for Glamour, MSNBC and WebMD.

Go to the AARP home page for tips on keeping healthy and sharp, and great deals.

3. Consider upgrading to an electric toothbrush.

Even though you can get excellent results from manual toothbrushes, electric toothbrushes really get the job done. "Not only do they provide exceptional plaque removal and gum stimulation, but they have timers to make sure you're brushing long enough," says New York City cosmetic dentist Jeffrey Golub-Evans. We love the teeth-whitening setting of the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Rechargeable Sonic Toothbrush, but if spending nearly $200 on a toothbrush isn't in your budget, the Oral-B Professional Deep Sweep Triaction 1000 is a less expensive option. Even a $6 battery-powered spin brush can make a difference. Simply put, "vibrations remove more stains," says New York City dentist Michael Apa.

Again, whitening toothpastes don't necessarily produce a dramatically whiter smile on their own, but they can make your teeth whiter than regular toothpaste. Most whitening toothpastes contain little to no hydrogen peroxide because "the ingredient is hard to stabilize," says cosmetic chemist Ni'Kita Wilson. "Instead, they exfoliate away new stains with silica, a gritty mineral." One exception? New Luster Premium Power White Deep Stain Eraser Toothpaste, which contains 2 percent stabilized hydrogen peroxide. "It should work better than other whitening toothpastes," Wilson says.

First, wait, do whitening toothpastes actually work?

Depends on what you mean by work, really. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), whitening toothpastes are effective at removing surface-level stains, also known as extrinsic stains, which is a kind of discoloration due to things like smoking, eating, and drinking, especially highly pigmented foods and drinks (think: wine, soda, and coffee).

However, whitening toothpastes can't change the natural color of your teeth or lighten a stain that goes deeper than a tooth's surface (the stains that go beyond the enamel are called intrinsic stains). Deep stains caused by factors like aging or long-term antibiotic use, as well as a few conditions that lead to teeth yellowing, require more than whitening toothpaste. In those cases, for whiter teeth, you need to level up to bleaching through products like whitening kits and strips, which you can get over-the-counter or through your dentist.

According to the Mayo Clinic, some whitening toothpastes also contain the chemical blue covarine, which creates an optical illusion that can make teeth appear less yellow by adhering to the surface of your teeth. In that way, they have an immediate effect, but the actual stain removal will depend on other ingredients and take a lot longer.

All told, whitening toothpaste can take from up to six weeks of twice-daily brushing to reduce surface stains and make teeth appear whiter. The key is consistency.

To help you decide which of the best whitening toothpastes out there is for you, we rounded up a mix of reviewer favorites and whitening toothpastes that meet the standards of the ADA’s Seal of Acceptance, which means they’re considered safe and effective at removing surface stains.

All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Why Your Teeth Are Getting Yellow

Acidic foods can eat away your tooth enamel and reveal the dentin, the layer below the enamel, which is yellow and can’t be whitened.

Again, coffee, wine, and black tea are acidic, but so are sodas, soft drinks energy drinks, sports drinks, soy sauce, pickles, alcohol, lemon juice and vinegar. Soft drinks have been shown to cause severe tooth enamel erosion and caries.

  • Foods with colorants: The food colorants from processed foods such as hard candy, gummies, popsicles, breakfast cereals, and cake icing will attach to your enamel and stain your teeth.
  • As a rule of thumb, if what you eat stains your tongue, it can stain your teeth as well.

    Smoking : Tobacco wreaks havoc in your oral health, including severe staining and tooth abrasion.

The nicotine in tobacco is responsible for the staining of your teeth because it turns yellow when it mixes with oxygen.

  • Poor hygiene: The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth, at least, two times per day and floss at least once a day. Not brushing regularly will lead to plaque accumulation, which is formed by bacteria, saliva, and food particles.2

Plaque can make your teeth look yellow, erode enamel, and cause cavities and gum disease.

If you don’t brush your teeth for several days, the plaque can stiffen and turn into a more harmful substance called tartar, a yellow layer of hardened plaque that can erode your teeth even further.

    Brushing too soon after meals: Brushing your teeth right after eating sounds like a good way to keep bacteria off your mouth, but it has been shown to erode tooth enamel.

Here’s why: Whenever you eat, the acidity of the meal leaves your tooth enamel weakened and softened for a short period, and brushing in that moment can remove some of it. This is dangerous because enamel doesn’t grow back.

It’s recommended to wait at least 30 min after finishing a meal before brushing your teeth.

Also, the sensitivity of your enamel will be higher if you eat highly acidic foods such as soda, coffee, or soft drinks.

Fortunately, there are simple habits you can follow on a regular basis to keep your teeth clean, white, and stain-free. Let’s take a look:

The nutrient-heavy carrot does more than strengthen eyesight and tighten the waistline. For oral care, carrots in raw form have a hard surface that removes stains while polishing and whitening teeth. By rubbing or crunching on hard carrots, your teeth get maximum protection almost immediately. Vitamin A protects the enamel from acid, bacteria, and stains that decay, erode, and cause cavities. In addition, the water in carrots combined with saliva wash away hard to reach food stuck in teeth. It’s similar to water or mouthwash. A carrot’s toughness strengthens gums, too. Like broccoli, carrots lose the effect if cooked.

The red stains in strawberries seem as though they would stain teeth more than clean it. However, a strawberry’s malic acid and ellagitannins stop tooth discoloration by stopping the stain-creating bacteria. The red stain actually whitens teeth (with or without adding baking soda) and reduces mouth and teeth inflammation. The Vitamin C stops inflammation in gums and periodontal disease from forming.

Julianne Hough Uses This Food Seasoning to Whiten Her Teeth

Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Whitening strips, laser procedures, toothpaste, mouthwash—the search for a product that will give you a brighter smile seems to be a never-ending journey.

According to Julianne Hough, the solution has most likely been in your kitchen the entire time.

"I've actually been trying turmeric," she told E! News.

The actress creates her own whitening product by using the orange-brown seasoning as the base.

"Youɽ think it would be the opposite and itɽ stain your teeth, but it actually makes them whiter," she shared with excitement.

While the use of a spice as a whitener may surprise you, turmeric is an anti-inflammatory, skin-brightening superfood that has steadily gained a reputation for its abilities to brighten both teeth and skin.

Unproven Natural Teeth Whitener Methods

Dr. Flax and Dr.Horowtiz both agree that activated charcoal isn’t the natural cure it’s billed as in terms of teeth whitening. Dr. Flax suggests adding fruit peels to that list of unproven methods as well, “Activated charcoal, kaolin clay and fruit peels may help whiten your teeth, but no studies have evaluated the safety or effectiveness of these methods.” While you can still test your luck with those methods, when all else fails, the safest bet is sticking to treatments that have been proven to yield noticeable results.

Cuddle up to a bowl of strawberries or mix a little turmeric paste to lift stains from your dull smile.