teeth and strawberries

Glossy fashion ads, movie billboards and magazine covers feature our cultural icons at their very best – with seemingly flawless skin, enviably toned bodies and most importantly, superstar, high-wattage smiles – because it’s easy on the eyes and the entire powerhouse package helps sell whatever product is being hawked. Even if we pride ourselves on resisting superficiality, in all honesty, none of us would ever want to find out the real truth behind Victoria’s Secret if her posse of pouty beauties sported gnarly yellow teeth.

But lingerie models aren’t the only ones who long for a dynamically white smile. Everyone from rock stars and construction workers to soccer moms and veterinarians share that very same, entirely achievable personal care dream, often going to great lengths (down dangerously chemical roads) to achieve it. Even if the paparazzi is nowhere to be found when you venture outside your home and the only time legions of concert goers throw unmentionables at your feet is during one of your daydreams, gosh darn it, you can have a million dollar smile for a song with these super natural, super effective whitening remedies!

NEEM TWIGS

Native to tropical Indian subcontinental regions, this highly valued, fast-growing tree possesses what are said to be 40 different medicinal properties, including that of a spermicide, broad-spectrum insect repellent, acne treatment and fever reducer. In terms of oral health care, people have historically used its flexible branches to naturally whiten their teeth since the internal fibers release bacteria-killing components that aid gum and overall dental health. If you prefer, applying more readily available neem powder directly to each tooth surface will also work quite effectively.

CELERY & APPLES

The fibrous cellulose in these ever-popular, diet-worthy snacks acts as a gentle, natural abrasive and – much like your toothbrush – can scrub those tell-tale signs of your healthy yet pigment-staining diet away. There’s no fancy prep involved with this whitening remedy… just slice, crunch and smile your way to a brighter tomorrow.

HYDROGEN PEROXIDE

That brown bottle inside your medicine cabinet is filled with entirely natural, non-toxic oxygen and water molecules so it may seem a bit surprising that the synergistic combination really shines in a number of tough household applications. Don’t just reserve it exclusively for tough laundry/pet stains and as a pesticide-torching produce rinse. That very same bubbling power can be used to safely lift the grunge off of your choppers while concurrently improving your overall dental health. Here’s how to enjoy the greatest benefit: Rinse your mouth with 3% hydrogen peroxide diluted with tap water in a 50-50 ratio every evening before bedtime and you’ll notice a brighter, whiter smile in just a few weeks.

STRAWBERRIES

How can these delicious darlings of the summer season – capable of staining countless white tablecloths and shirts – actually bestow us with whiter smiles? It’s all thanks to the power of their naturally astringent malic acid, that easily detectable flavor component that endows strawberries with their recognizable tongue-tickling tang. Kick up the white factor of your choppers by whipping up this once-a-week treatment:

  • Thoroughly crush one berry with a fork and add one teaspoon of baking soda until you create a red paste.
  • Using a soft bristled toothbrush, apply the mixture to your soon-to-be-pearly whites, allowing the blend to sit for 5 minutes before rinsing off.
  • In order to prevent tooth decay, it’s really important that you then follow your strawberry whitening treatment with a standard toothbrushing in order to remove any natural sugars that might be left behind.

BAKING SODA

Also known as sodium bicarbonate, the fine white powder in everyone’s cupboard does a lot more than leaven baked goods and clear unpleasant odors out of the refrigerator. The salt-based multi-purposed wonder, when transformed into a simple paste (with the addition of tap water), gently lifts stains that have permeated tooth enamel when used regularly. Yes, it’s got a distinctive salty taste… but when you think about it, it’s so much better than saturating your teeth with conventional, chemical-based toothpastes. If, however, you just can’t stand it ‘straight up,’ this homemade baking soda-based toothpaste recipe might just strike your fancy:

  • 6 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1/3 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 teaspoons of glycerin
  • 15 drops of peppermint or other breath-freshening oil

Mix all four ingredients in a small, resealable container and dip your brush inside anytime you want a brightening boost.

ORANGE PEEL & BAY LEAVES

This rather unconventional tooth brightener – which tastes pleasantly tangy and earthy at the same time – is yet another popular way to remove dulling deposits that make teeth look less than bright. Whether you alternate between rubbing a dried bay leaf and then a dried orange peel on each tooth or you mix up a dry toothpowder using both ingredients in their pulverized form (with a dash of water), you’ll notice a great improvement in the wattage of your smile with consistent use.

Image: Nanny Snowflake

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