The prettiest thing you can wear. I say that, given some of the questionable fashion choices I’ve made since becoming a mom (hello pj’s at 2pm!), that’s never been more true.
Americans spend over a billion dollars a year on over-the-counter tooth whitening products, often without being aware of their risks. Fortunately, we don’t need them – we can simply head to our pantry and most likely find at least one ingredient that whitens naturally. Not only is it a safer option, it’s more affordable, too.
One, which I mention in my ebook, DIY Organic Beauty Recipes, is activated charcoal. (Yes, the stuff that looks like squid ink when you brush it on.)
The other, which I’m going to tell you about today, is turmeric, a gorgeous yellow spice that is often used to give mustard it’s bright color. Though these two substances are notorious for staining just about everything else in sight, they actually remove stains from teeth and lighten overall tooth color. I wrote a little about how activated charcoal works in my ebook, but the mechanism behind turmeric is still a mystery. Here’s what you need to know, though:
You may notice an immediate difference with the first application, you may not. But if you’ll do it consistently for a few days to a week, I think you’ll be surprised by how much of a difference it makes. Hey, before you know it you’ll probably be telling your best friend, sister or mom to rub turmeric on their teeth, too!
Will your teeth become so blindingly white that they look like they glow in the dark? No. Many of us are used to seeing ultra-white hollywood smiles, but what’s rarely mentioned is that those smiles are often achieved by applying veneers to the front of natural teeth. It’s just not possible to bleach teeth that white, but it’s not necessary for a gorgeous, healthy looking smile either.
I mean, according to Mother Nature Network, “Former Miss USA Susie Castillo swears by her recipe for homemade toothpaste, which includes turmeric powder. (Though Ms. Castillo seems to have recently changed her website and the link is not longer active, I was able to find it via wayback machine.)
Now, we’ll get to today’s technique in a second, but first let me tell you . . .
Why I Ditched Tooth Whitening Strips
Years ago, I was so addicted to whitening strips that I would often pop one in after eating on my lunch break. I didn’t know that you’re only supposed to use over-the-counter strips twice-per-year at the very most, and that increasing the frequency comes with risks. (source)
I found out soon enough, though. My teeth started to ache and the tips became slightly translucent, which are both documented side effects of conventional tooth whiteners. “The media has done a good job of making whitening sound innocuous, but it’s not,” Dr. Ira Handschuh, a White Plains, N.Y., dentist, told ABC News.
According to the article,”Carbamide peroxide, the whitening agent in most bleaches, can irritate the gums, causing them to recede, making the teeth brittle, chalky and so thin as to be translucent at the edges when the product is overused.”
What was even more upsetting to me, though, was my teeth faded back to yellow more and more quickly after each treatment, so the more often I used them the less effective they were. Ugh.
Of course, those are just a few of the concerns associated with conventional whitening treatments. The long-term effects are not fully known, but one older study suggests there may be a connection between oral cancer in young adults and the use of tooth whitening products. The study was very small and is not definitive by any means, but a subsequent study on dentist-performed whitening treatments (which use the same basic chemicals, only at higher concentrations) also found potential genotoxic effects. (source)
So how did I break the habit? Well, just around the time I developed tooth sensitivity I discovered real food, ditched the strips, embraced bone broth, and started making my own deodorant and tooth soap.
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