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Broke Girls Guide to Whitening Your Teeth

Updated on August 16, 2012

Hi - my name is Laura and I'm addicted to coffee.

I'm already overextended when it comes to supporting my filthy caffeine habit, but I've also been thinking about whitening my teeth. I'm not looking for a blinding white here, but I've just recently become more self-conscious about my yellowing grin. Amidst researching the cheapest whitening systems, I've come across some better ideas.

Any drink with tannins (coffee, wine, soda...) is to blame for the yellowing and staining of your teeth. In an attempt to counteract the negative effect that my coffee habit is having on my smile, I've taken to brushing every time I've drained my cup.

And while good brushing and flossing is key to maintaing good oral health and helps to lift stains and protect enamel - sometimes it just isn't enough. In fact, brushing usually only helps to remove superficial stains. The stains caused by those nasty tannins are usually soaked-in, and therefore, much harder to remove. This is why sales of tooth whitening equipment have skyrocketed in the past few years.

Tooth whitening is a new craze. Bleach-aholics can spend hundreds, even thousands! - on whitening strips and trays, or on expensive whitening sessions from dentists. If the prices of Crest White Strips and the countless number of toothpastes that claim to "whiten and protect" are too much for you, you've come to the right place.

There are many cheaper alternatives to gaining a pearly white smile that won't break the bank - from home treatments to bleach your teeth to simple tricks that can make your teeth appear whiter in a flash!

Hydrogen Peroxide

Perhaps the most well-known DIY tooth-whitening treatment is Hydrogen Peroxide. My grandma has been swishing and brushing with Hydrogen Peroxide for years!

Most Peroxide solutions that you can buy in a drugstore or local grocery store are a 3% solution - which is the recommended concentration for hygiene or cosmetic use. If you're tempted to use a more concentrated solution for faster results, proceed with caution, as it can have damaging effects on your enamel and gums.

An average-sized brown bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide can run you about $5, and will last at least a few weeks. To whiten, simply swish with the solution as you would with a regular swig of Listerine. The foam means it's working! You can also mix a small amount of Hydrogen Peroxide with baking soda to make your own whitening toothpaste, but it is not recommended to do this more than once a week.

Baking Soda

Yet another trick out of grandma's medicine cabinet - baking soda can be used to scrub away stains.

Many toothpastes today use baking soda as a cleaning agent, but you can buy a box and use your own makeshift toothpaste for even cheaper!

Dip your toothbrush into the box or carefully sprinkle it onto your brush, and get whitening!

Orange Peels

Next time you peel into a citrus fruit, hold on to the skin! The white inner portion of fruits like oranges and clementines contain a number of vitamins, such as Vitamin C and fiber. Limonene is a natural cleaner that is extracted from orange peels for commercial use in many different types of cleaning products.

Just rub leftover peel over your teeth! It's recycling at it's finest! This method is more adept at removing superficial stains and gently whitening, it isn't your best bet at getting rid of those tough, embedded stains.

Concerned about doing damage with citric acid? Don't be! Unlike the fruit, the peel doesn't contain any enamel-damaging acid.


Red Lipstick

Sorry, guys - this one is strictly for the ladies!

Red lipstick not only classic and beautiful - now it can help your teeth to appear whiter.

Choosing a lipstick with blue undertones counteracts any yellowness in your teeth. This little trick is an instant whitener if you're feeling self-conscious about a less-than-perfect smile before a date, wedding, or other big event.

It might take some time and dedication to find the right shade for you, especially if you have more yellow undertones in your skin. Test and find what shade of red flatters you and your teeth the most!

If you aren't a lipstick kind of girl, a gloss can have a slightly more subtle effect.

Say No to White and Gold

What you wear can have an enormous impact on how your teeth look.

Rule #1: Steer clear of white. Wearing all white - especially in close proximity to your mouth - can emphasize the contrast in color between your smile and your shirt. A white shirt will make even the whitest of smiles appear yellowed in comparison.

Rule #2: Silver, not gold. Gold is, obviously, a more yellow color. It brings out the gold in your hair, the gold in your skin, the gold in your... teeth? Opt for silver to draw attention away from your less than perfect smile.

You don't have to spend a fortune on pricey strips and trays to get a dazzling smile! Before you drop hundreds on at-home treatments, give these simple tricks a try!

And wear your smile proudly - it's the most flattering thing you can put on! :)


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    • laurathegentleman profile image

      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Oh my goodness - I've never heard of that before, but I'm trying that tonight!! (I guess I have to find a clean eraser first... all of mine are more stained than my teeth!)

      Thanks for the feedback!!

    • Jamie Brock profile image

      Jamie Brock 5 years ago from Texas

      Love the title on this hub! I was immediately attracted to it... I've heard of the baking soda and peroxide but not the orange peel.. it makes sense though. I drink a lot of coffee too and so when my teeth start looking stained, I use a pencil eraser to rub the stains off just like you would use the the eraser on a piece of paper- I just have to make sure my teeth are good and dry first. I usually use a towel or paper towel and rub them dry first...I know it sounds crazy but it actually works! Voting up and useful :)

    • laurathegentleman profile image

      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      I'm glad to hear it! I've been trying the peroxide, but the awful taste of it means that I have no routine - I use it when I can stomach it. ;)

    • daisyjae profile image

      daisyjae 5 years ago from Canada

      I've been using peroxide and baking soda on my teeth for a while now- it really works.