11 Foods That Will Whiten Your Teeth
With the popularity of home whitening products, it's clear many of us want our pearly whites to stay white. But our daily cup(s) of joe, wine, and myriad other foods and habits are getting in the way. However, there are a few things from nature that naturally help protect our teeth from decay and discoloration. (See also: 24 Uses for Toothpaste)
Apples (and Other Crunchy Fruits and Veggies)
Eating crunchy fruits and vegetables acts like a toothbrush, gently scrubbing away surface stains and removing excess food and bacteria from your mouth. It increase saliva, which is the body's best defense against bacteria and plaque buildup. Apples also contain malic acid, which is a common chemical used in teeth whitening products. Fruits and veggies with vitamin C also helps kill odor-causing bacteria and strengthens gums. Try veggies like cauliflower, carrots, and celery.
Cheeses (and Other Dairy Products)
Diary products are rich in protein, calcium, phosphorus, and lactic acid, all of which help fight bacteria in your mouth and make enamel stronger. Casein, a type of protein found in dairy, especially cheese, works with calcium and phosphorus to help repair enamel. Protein binds to the teeth and prevent acids from causing damage. Hard cheeses in particular are good for whitening. They increase saliva, helping remove bacteria and food particles. (See also: Milking It: 5 Easy Homemade Cheeses)
Strawberries contain malic acid, a natural astringent which helps to lift stains, and vitamin C, which help fight plaque build-up. Try this home whitening recipe: crush strawberries, apply to teeth, leave for five minutes, rinse well (and floss to get those strawberry seeds out).
Leafy vegetables and other high-fiber foods help scrub your teeth with all the chewing and saliva the chewing generates. Enjoy your next bowl of spinach slowly, knowing that you're also doing a mini toothbrushing session.
Pineapples contain an enzyme called bromelain, which is a natural stain remover, and also helps break up plaque.
Basil has a host of oils and acids that act as an antibiotic, inhibiting the growth of bacteria in the mouth.
Shiitake mushrooms contain lentinan, which helps to inhibit bacteria from growing.
Onions and Garlic
Onions and garlic contain thiosulfinates and thiosulfonates, which reduce bacteria that cause tooth decay. Unfortunately, cooking destroys them, so eat them raw. (See also: 10 Great Uses for Onions)
Salmon is not only rich in calcium, which helps repair teeth, but also in vitamin D, essential for healthy bones and teeth.
Broccoli contains iron, which forms a barrier that protects the enamel of your teeth from acid. (See also: 25 Cheap and Tasty Frozen Broccoli Recipes)
Chewing gum is actually a great habit for your teeth (sugar-free only, please). Chew a piece of gum after a meal to get your saliva flowing and wash away bacteria and neutralize acid from the food you just ate. Saliva also helps prevent stains on your teeth. Look for gums with xylitol, an alcohol that reduces bacteria and prevent plaque.