7 home remedies for whitening teeth are put to the test

When you look in the mirror and smile and see yellow teeth staring back at you, you’re probably inspired to try and whiten your teeth. Teeth whitening products are expensive, though, and figuring out which ones work and are safe can seem like an insurmountable challenge.

Googling home remedies for this will bring up a number of creative treatments. You get everything from scrubbing fruits on your teeth to rubbing activated charcoal. You may scratch your head and ask, “Really?” If you want to know what works and what doesn’t, check out the list of 7 home remedies to determine whether they’re fact or fiction.

1. Banana peel. Fiction: Banana peels for whitening teeth are trending in the home remedy world. Supposedly, the potassium, magnesium and manganese in the peel are absorbed into your teeth and will whiten them if you rub the peels on your teeth twice a day for two minutes. According to Glamour, Dr. Darren Rioppelle, DDS, tried this for 14 days. Afterwards, he checked his teeth and noted that there was no change in color.

2. Apple cider vinegar. Fiction: The acid in the apple cider vinegar is supposed to “eat away stains and discolorations.” WebMD shares that there are no studies to back this claim up. In fact, the acid could actually cause damage to the enamel on your teeth if used too much.

3. Oil pulling. Fiction: Oil pulling is the process of swishing oil through your teeth. This is supposed to pull the stains off your teeth. Although oil pulling has been shown to help decrease bacteria in the mouth, WebMD reports that it doesn’t do anything to brighten or whiten your teeth.

4. Charcoal. Fiction: The American Dental Association says that using a product like activated charcoal that’s abrasive to whiten your teeth can actually be counterproductive. The abrasive substance can wear through the outer layer on your teeth, exposing the next layer, which is yellower.

5. Hydrogen peroxide. Fact: According to WebMD, a 6 percent gel solution of hydrogen peroxide can help whiten teeth. You can get this as an over-the-counter remedy but it’s a weaker solution than the gel, and swishing it will take a lot longer to do much of anything and could simply irritate the gums.

6. Fruit. Fiction: Citrus fruits, apples, strawberries and pineapples are touted as having acids that will help lighten teeth. The ADA says that scrubbing your teeth with these items can cause the acids to eat through the enamel into the softer, under-layer of the teeth or can cause cavities to form. Eating these fruits is healthy for you, but don’t try using them for toothpaste.

7. Baking soda. Fact: Baking soda definitely has whitening abilities. That’s why it’s added to toothpaste. The ADA does caution against trying to make your own or scrubbing your teeth directly with it because it’s very abrasive, and you can easily wear through the enamel and damage your teeth. WebMD says that using a homemade toothpaste can take a long time before you see real results, so it recommends buying a tooth-whitening paste.

Information is knowledge. With good knowledge, you can make informed decisions. You don’t have to just live with yellow teeth; you simply need to know what works.