If you are looking to whiten your teeth naturally, there are many foods that can help you do that. Don’t be ashamed of your smile. If you feel that your teeth are a little dirty or have a ‘sickly’ color tone, there are foods that will help keep them clean and strong. Together with brushing and flossing, you can assure yourself a healthy denture. On the same token, there are foods that can do just the opposite. Among them are coffee, tea, soft drinks, red wine, and tobacco.
“The surface morphology of teeth influences both the perception of color and the amount of extrinsic stain that accumulates – smooth surfaces with few or no crevices or cracks are less likely to develop extrinsic stain (or, via cracks, intrinsic stain) than are rough surfaces. In newly erupted teeth normal enamel reflects and refracts light, resulting in a lustrous and glossy appearance. As enamel ages, it loses its initial surface texture. This causes a reduction in light refraction and reflection and results in the light penetrating deeper into the tooth. As a consequence, the tooth appears less lustrous and shade differences become more obvious, leading to the appearance of a darker tooth. In addition, the translucent incisal edge increases in area.”1
In this article, we mention some of the main fruits, vegetables and other foods that can whiten your teeth naturally and prevent diseases. This is because the nutrients provided by these foods strengthen your immune system.
Bacteria in the mouth can slowly degrade enamel that covers and protects our teeth. Research has shown that broccoli is able to build a coating around your teeth that avoids acidic deterioration. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.
“Broccoli also provides many health-promoting properties which attributes to its antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic compounds. It is primely composed of polyphenols, glucosinolates, sulforaphane and selenium. Broccoli sprouts contain negligible quantities of indole glucosinolates, that predominate in the mature vegetable and gives rise to degradation products like indole-3- carbinol that has the capability to enhance tumorigenesis. Hence, small quantities of crucifer sprouts may protect against the risk of cancer as effectively as much larger quantities of mature vegetables of the same variety. They are also known to contain a high content of flavonoids, vitamins and mineral nutrients. Vitamin C, insoluble complexes, is a good adjuvant in iron therapy but can interfere with the metabolism of some drugs and antineoplastic agents.”2
They contain significant amounts of malic acid, which has been found to increase the production of saliva. Saliva maximizes the cleanliness of teeth. “Organic acids are an important component of fruit flavor and, together with soluble sugars and aromas, contribute to the overall organoleptic quality of fresh apple fruits. Malic acid is the predominant organic acid in apple fruits. Malic acid is the major component of apple that is founding to maintain the liver in a healthy condition and it help in digestion process. The content of organic acids might be also of interest in that certain acids may lead to a lowering of the postprandial blood glucose and insulin responses.”3
They also contain malic acid, Vitamin, and antioxidants; for example, ellagitannin. Vitamin C can prevent various periodontal illnesses from developing.
“Research shows that adequate nutrition is essential not only for overall physical health, but also for the development and maintenance of a healthy mouth, especially the teeth and gums. The relationship between diet and oral health is highly related as good nutrition has a role in preventing tooth decay and gum disease, while the health of our teeth and gums helps determine the type of foods we can eat. In fact, when one or more nutrients in a diet is missing, the first symptoms of deficiency often manifest in the mouth (usually with vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, and protein deficiency). Good oral health practices begin early in life and should be maintained throughout life.”4
They contain bromelain, which has anti-inflammatory and cleaning characteristics. Bromelain has been shown to contribute to stain removal and is widely used for dental care and prevention.
“Bromelain is extracted from the stem and fruit of Pineapple (Ananas comosus) plant. It prevents the propagation of inflammation by blocking pro-inflammatory metabolites used extensively to treat arthritis, trauma and other inflammatory processes.
Medically papain and bromelain in conjunction with animal proteases like trypsin and chymotrypsin offer a wide spectrum of therapeutic effects. Their collective anti-edemateous, anti-inflammatory, anti-thrombotic and fibrinolytic action has been established in laboratory and human studies. They modulate the functions of adhesion molecules on blood and endothelial cells, and also regulate and activate various immune cells and their cytokine production. […] The premise that any substance disrupting the pellicle along with antibacterial agents such as neem and miswak might affect plaque formation and gingival inflammation was evaluated in our study.”5
Raisins increase saliva production, which prevent dental deterioration. They help control plaque formation by counteracting the acidic environment generated by bacteria.
“Among the various protective functions of saliva, including diluting and cleaning the oral cavity, serving as a host defense, and buffering and enabling ion exchange, certain salivary characteristics outside the normal range of values may contribute to the caries process. Dental caries results from the dissolution of minerals from the tooth surface by organic acids formed from the bacterial fermentation of sugars. The capacity of saliva to flush microorganisms and substrates and maintain oral cleanliness may be influenced by its consistency and flow rate. Salivary pH and buffering capacity can contribute to the ion exchanges during re-mineralization and demineralization of enamel, with supersaturation of calcium and phosphate at pH 7 and in the presence of fluoride. The concentration of hydrogen ions (pH) at the tooth surface also will affect the rate of demineralization. The statements above are based primarily on the results of in vitro studies that reveal the biological plausibility for changes in salivary characteristics to contribute to the development of dental caries.”6
Cheese also promotes extra saliva secretion while being a natural provider of minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus; both of which help to keep teeth strong and healthy. It also contains proteins and lactic acid, a compound which is known to protect teeth against cavities and deterioration.
“Understanding the mechanisms whereby probiotic species modulate oral immunity is important, and the role of probiotic therapy in the treatment of oral manifestations of other diseases such as cutaneous diseases should also be investigated. There are no data as to whether probiotics exert any effect on oral manifestations of autoimmune diseases. In this regard it might be interesting to conduct studies on patients with lichen planus, pemphigus vulgaris, cicatricial pemphigoid, or aphthous stomatitis. So far the vehicles for administration of probiotics have mainly been dairy products, most of which are produced by lactic acid fermentation. Species that ferment sugar and lower oral pH are detrimental to the teeth. Hence, systematic studies and randomized controlled trials are called for to find out the best probiotic strains and means.”7
Staying well hydrated is one of the most important things to do if you want to stay healthy. Water is another saliva stimulating substance. As a bonus, washing your mouth with plenty of water after eating is a great habit that helps prevent dental decay.
“In the case of sugar-sweetened soft drinks, while they are a source of hydration for many consumers, it is important to be aware of their energy content and also of their potential adverse effect on dental health, both because of their sugar content and because they often have a high level of acidity. Diet versions of soft drinks, which are sweetened with low-energy sweeteners, have the advantage of supplying water without a significant amount of energy, but may still be acidic and so increase risk of dental erosion if consumed too frequently.”8
“A variety of other herbal products offer whitening effect of teeth and are enumerated below with their mechanism of action:
- Strawberries and apples contain malic acid which is a natural enamel whitener. It also increases saliva production and thereby exerting the anticariogenic property.
- Celery, carrots and sesame seeds have high fiber content and act as mild abrasive which scrubs and removes surface stains effectively.
- Pineapple and orange contain an enzyme known as bromelain which removes superficial stains and also reduces plaque buildup.
- Papaya contains enzyme papain which is more like bromelain and removes superficial stains and reduces plaque buildup. Papain enzyme is found more in unripe papaya than ripe papaya.
- Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt contain lactic acid which is a natural enamel whitener and also increases the production of saliva.
- Kiwifruit contains actinidin which removes surface stains on enamel.
- Lemon extract and peel contain citric acid which bleaches the stains on enamel. It also has antibacterial properties.
- Banana peel is rich in potassium, magnesium and manganese which are absorbed over teeth surface making them appear white.
- Rock salt acts as a mild abrasive and removes superficial stains. They increase the pH of the saliva thereby exerting antibacterial properties.
- Activated charcoal is negatively charged and binds to the positively charged plaque on tooth surface and is thus absorbed over tooth surface whitening it.”9
Eating healthy foods will also encourage a healthy oral environment that will preserve and whiten your teeth, making you feel better about your smile.
(1) Collins, F. M. (2012). Treatment options for tooth discoloration and remineralization. A Peer Reviewed Publication. Ada Cerp.[Online] Diunduhdari: www. ada. org/goto/cerp, 7. Available online at https://www.dentalacademyofce.com/courses/1522/PDF/TreatmentOptions.pdf
(2) Ravikumar, C. (2015). Therapeutic potential of Brassica oleracea (Broccoli)-A review. Int J Drug Dev & Res, 7(2), 009-010. Available online at http://www.ijddr.in/drug-development/therapeutic-potential-of-brassica-oleracea-broccoli–a-review.pdf
(3) Violeta, N. O. U. R., Trandafir, I., & Ionica, M. E. (2010). Compositional characteristics of fruits of several apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) cultivars. Notulae Botanicae Horti Agrobotanici Cluj-Napoca, 38(3), 228-233. Available online at https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/43a0/e1ff3ddacf8c565dbc4e8ddb0fbff6a292ec.pdf
(4) Clifford, J., Bellows, L., Moore, R., Anderson, J., & Brown, L. Nutrition and oral health. Service in action; no. 9.321. Available online at https://extension.colostate.edu/docs/pubs/foodnut/09321.pdf
(5) Tadikonda, A., Pentapati, K. C., Urala, A. S., & Acharya, S. (2017). Anti-plaque and anti-gingivitis effect of Papain, Bromelain, Miswak and Neem containing dentifrice: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of clinical and experimental dentistry, 9(5), e649. Available online at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5429476/
(6) Cunha-Cruz, J., Scott, J., Rothen, M., Mancl, L., Lawhorn, T., Brossel, K., … & Northwest Practice-based Research Collaborative in Evidence-based DENTistry. (2013). Salivary characteristics and dental caries: evidence from general dental practices. The Journal of the American Dental Association, 144(5), e31-e40. Available online at http://www.myfederalwaydentist.com/misc/dr-kenneth-brossel-research-paper-salivary-characteristics-and-dental-caries.pdf
(7) Meurman, J. H., & Stamatova, I. (2007). Probiotics: contributions to oral health. Oral diseases, 13(5), 443-451. Available online at https://probiorahealth.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/probiotic-review2007.pdf
(8) Benelam, B., & Wyness, L. (2010). Hydration and health: a review. Nutrition Bulletin, 35(1), 3-25. Available online at http://revdesportiva.pt/files/form_cont/Hydration_and_health_review_fev_2010.pdf
(9) Kalliath, C., Mukunda, A., Pynadath, M., Venugopal, V., & Prethweeraj, J. (2018). Comparison between the effect of commercially available chemical teeth whitening paste and teeth whitening paste containing ingredients of herbal origin on human enamel. AYU (An international quarterly journal of research in Ayurveda), 39(2), 113. Available online at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6369603/