Natural Tooth Whitening Ideas

It may give you an energy boost in the morning, but that cup of coffee isn't doing your smile any favors.

Andrew Dernie/Getty Images

Quick: What's the most requested cosmetic dental procedure in the U.S.? If you guessed teeth whitening, you're correct. And in addition to visiting the dentist for whiter teeth, Americans spend more than $1.4 billion on over-the-counter (OTC) whitening products annually [source: Mapes]. All that bleach may turn pearly whites whiter but it can come at a price -- and not just in dollars. There are side effects that come along with both at-home and in-office whitening. The most common complaint is tooth sensitivity, especially to cold foods and drinks, and some people find the bleaches in these products also irritate their gums.

Enter natural tooth whitening options. These won't whiten teeth the same way an OTC whitening kit or a dental procedure will, because they don't contain bleaching ingredients. There are some tricks, however, that will help to remove surface stains caused by some of the most common tooth-staining culprits: foods and drinks we consume every day, like tomato sauce, wine and sports drinks. And don't discount that morning cup of coffee or your nicotine habit. Basically, the common wisdom is that if it can stain your shirt, it can stain your teeth.

Whether you're trying to avoid the side effects of or the bleaching ingredients in OTC tooth whitening kits, or you're just looking for easy ways to keep your teeth bright between whitening appointments (newly whitened pearly whites will begin to lose their sparkle after about a month), we have five natural smile-brightening tips for you. First, let's talk about why crunching on celery is good for your oral health.