4 Foods That Whiten Your Teeth Naturally
By Amber Brenza. Apr 29, 2015
Looking to make those pearly whites shine a little brighter? We can tell you to sidestep black coffee, red wine, and sugary treats until we're blue in the face, but avoiding stain-causing foods is only half the battle. Along with brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash twice daily, choosing foods that actually promote whitening and oral health should be part of your routine, too. And while there's no official consensus on how much of the foods below you need to eat to achieve results, the evidence makes it clear that they're definitely worth adding permanently to your grocery list.
Despite its unpopularity with the under-10 set, this cruciferous veggie packs some serious benefits for your teeth, according to researchers from the Bauru School of Dentistry in Brazil. Their study, published in the European Journal of Dentistry, found that the iron present in broccoli may form an acid-resistant coating on the surface of your choppers. That coating reduces contact between acidic foods and drinks—like soda—and the enamel of your teeth. And stick to the raw stuff—the crunch of uncooked broccoli may have a polishing effect as well.
A study published in the journal General Dentistry found that cheese consumption—cheddar, in particular—increased saliva production and formed a protective barrier on tooth enamel. Researchers from the Academy of General Dentistry believe alteration of pH levels in the mouth are at work here—lower pH levels put people at risk for tooth erosion and cavities, while higher pH levels signify healthier teeth. After chowing on some cheddar, study participants showed a rapid increase of pH levels. But not all dairy is created equal: Milk and sugar-free yogurt showed no pH level changes in participants.
Sticky and sugary raisins seem like they'd be bad for your teeth, right? Wrong. The dried grapes may actually improve your oral health, according to researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago's College of Dentistry. The study, presented at an annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, found that oleanolic acid—a compound found in Thompson seedless raisins—may prevent the growth of two types of oral bacteria: Streptococcus mutans, which causes cavities, and Porphyromonas gingivalis, which causes periodontal disease. In addition to its cavity-fighting M.O., oleanic acid also protects teeth from plaque build-up.
This sweet, juicy tropical fruit can do a number on your mouth if you eat too much of it, but the same enzyme in pineapple that makes your tongue feel like sandpaper could also whiten your teeth. A study published in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene found that bromelain—an enzyme derived from the fruit, stem, and leaves of pineapple—may break down stains on the surface of teeth without harmful, abrasive effects to the enamel. In fact, teeth-whitening toothpastes with natural enymes (like bromelain and papain) have better whitening effects than more abrasive toothpaste formulas that include whitening ingredients like perlite or calcium carbonate.