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 What are some easy, affordable ways to whiten teeth at home?

Answer: As we all learned from little orphan Annie, you’re never fully dressed without a smile! There are countless ways to brighten up your smile. But with all the coffee, wine, and stain-inducing foods we consume, keeping your teeth white can often be a serious challenge. Brushing twice a day, gargling mouthwash, and having a good relationship with your dentist will definitely help, but here are some other options to help keep those pearly whites as pearly and white as can be!

The first at-home whitening treatment is one that you’ve probably heard your mother and grandmother swear by: baking soda and peroxide, aka the simplest and most affordable way to whiten your teeth. Create a paste by mixing some hydrogen peroxide with baking soda. Then, spread it over your regular toothpaste onto your toothbrush and get to scrubbing! Just be careful not to get any on your tongue or gums, as the peroxide tastes absolutely awful and can irritate your gums as well. (But then again, pain is beauty, so suck it up!) If you’re really brave or don’t have time to create a makeshift toothpaste, take a swig of peroxide as a mouthwash. The peroxide will kill any bacteria in your mouth that causes plaque build up and bad breath. And don’t eat for at least 30 minutes afterward.

While peroxide and baking soda have been known to do the trick, fruit peels are a lesser known method that is said to provide equally great results. Strawberries, banana, lime, and orange peels taste delicious together in a smoothie—and are also excellent teeth whiteners! Take the peel of the fruit of your choice and rub it against each tooth. It may not rid you of prolonged coffee stains, but will rub away any superficial stains or discoloration. Not to mention, it tastes great!

Rubbing fruit on your teeth will help brighten your smile temporarily, but eating crunchy fruits and vegetables will benefit your teeth in the long run. The abrasiveness of an apple or a pear will brush any germs and plaque off of your teeth, while celery and carrots will remove stains without damaging the tooth enamel. These healthy snacks also promote saliva production, which keeps your mouth clean and cavity free!

Oil has been known to do wonders for food and skin, but it can also be used as a DIY teeth whitener. Take three or four table spoons of vegetable oil and swish it around your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes. (Yes, MINUTES, not seconds. Remember how I said pain is beauty??) Although this method has proven to give good results, you may not notice any progress until about five to six months later.

Brushing and flossing twice a day or after each meal is a great way to maintain oral health and a bright smile. However, these natural quick-fixes can give your smile that extra sheen it deserves! How do you maintain a healthy white smile? Tell us!