Our teeth go through a lot of everyday wear and tear. Whether it’s due to wine, tobacco, or acidic foods, our enamel becomes yellow overtime. There are a number of teeth whitening treatments, from whitening strips to professional procedures. Professional and commercial whitening ingredients can be harsh on tooth enamel, so taking a natural approach may be a healthier alternative. Using natural remedies and routine oral care will keep your teeth healthy and white:

1. Brushing and flossing
Brushing and flossing everyday is essential. Routine brushing removes the buildup and surface stains from food, drinks, and everyday activities. Flossing helps remove particles from in between teeth. When left untreated, this creates plaque, cavities, and discoloration. For an added whitening boost, purchase a toothpaste with baking soda. You can also make a natural whitening paste using water and baking soda. Simply brush for two minutes and rinse with water.

2. Oil pulling
Oil pulling, an Ayurvedic medicinal practice, has been used for centuries. You use a carrier oil like coconut, olive, or sesame oil to “pull” toxins from your mouth. Add a tablespoon of oil and swish it around your mouth for 20 minutes before spitting it out. Oil pulling reduces plaque, cavities, and freshen breath. Be sure to spit into the trash or a toilet to avoid clogs. Since you don’t swallow during oil pulling, you can add clove or peppermint essential oil for additional benefits. Clove oil is antibacterial, antifungal, and improves gum health.

3. Eat fruits and vegetables
Just as certain foods and drinks contribute to tooth discoloration, there are foods that contribute to a cleaner mouth and whiter teeth. Raw fruits and vegetables help remove plaque as you bite into them and chew. Strawberries are a popular fruit for whitening teeth. Strawberries contain malic acid, which helps rid discoloration. Because acids wear down the enamel overtime, be sure to rinse afterwards. You can also apply a mixture of strawberry pulp and baking soda. Only leave the mixture on for a couple of minutes before rinsing will whiten your teeth. Be sure to only use this combination a couple of times per week.

4. Eliminate stain-causing foods
If possible, avoid ingesting acidic products like coffee, wine, and carbonated beverages. If you can’t, try your best to brush your teeth after consuming these foods or flush your mouth with water. This will help neutralize the acids that erode tooth enamel. Wait up to 30 minutes after eating or drinking for best results.

5. Avoid sugar
Sugar also breaks down tooth enamel. Eating sugar in moderation contributes to preventative care. When drinking sugary or acidic drinks, use a straw to minimize contact with your teeth.

6. Other teeth whitening tips
To maintain whiter teeth, preventative care is the best solution. By regularly brushing, flossing, and minimizing exposure to acidic foods and beverages, you can avoid discoloration and enamel erosion. Be sure to drink enough water to neutralize acids between meals when you’re unable to brush your teeth. If you already have mild to moderate discoloration, be sure to mix baking soda with your toothpaste. Use this and the previously mentioned methods a few times a week for best results. These natural, cost-effective remedies help you achieve the pearly whites you desire.