Experts reveal 7 natural foods to effectively whiten your teeth

A bright, white smile exudes confidence and helps you put your best face forward.

But age and the amount of coffee you drink each morning can lead to discoloration, and it can be discouraging when you feel like you can't show off your pearly whites. There are several treatments available that can remedy a discolored smile, including over-the-counter strips or professional services. But if you're looking for a more natural and affordable approach to whitening, you may want to consider trying some foods that can help whiten your teeth. “While foods themselves can't whiten a smile, there are several that can help maintain and improve your appearance,” Sean Kutlay, DDS, celebrity cosmetic dentist tells Best Life. Wondering which snacks you should add to your grocery list? Read on to discover seven foods recommended by dentists and dietitians for a dazzling smile.

1. Strawberries

Strawberries were frequently recommended for a healthy, bright smile. “Strawberries contain malic acid, which can help whiten teeth,” explains Lauren Becker, DDS at Lauren Becker Dentistry. As Kelsey Costa, registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) and research specialist at the National Coalition on Health Care (NCHC) notes, malic acid is a “natural whitening agent” that also increases saliva if you have a dry mouth, which can also help prevent discoloration. However, don't go overboard on strawberries; they're acidic and can wear away your enamel over time, according to Khouloud Sobh, DMD, dentist at Risas Dental and Accolades in Phoenix, Arizona. Don't like strawberries? Watermelon also contains malic acid, so you can try it instead.

2. Pineapple

Pineapple is another fruit that can help you get that white smile you've been looking for. “Pineapple contains bromelain, which can remove stains from the surface of teeth,” said Nathan Oakes, DMD, a board member of the American Academy of Aligners tells Best Life. According to Costa, bromelain is an enzyme that attacks proteins. “This includes the proteins in your pellicular layers (salivary protein layer), which act as a protective shield for your teeth, but can also absorb pigments from your food,” she says. Madelyn Larouche, the registered dietitian (RD) behind ADHD Dietitian, mentions that you should also get your pineapple from the produce section. “It's worth noting that fresh pineapple will have the highest bromelain content,” she says. “Canned pineapple loses bromelain during the canning process.” Papaya is another fruit containing bromelain, so you can opt for either tropical fruit depending on your preferences.

3. Celery

Moving on to , raw celery is a tooth-friendly option for a brighter smile. Oakes notes that it's a “natural abrasive that can remove surface stains” as you chew. “Celery is an excellent source of fiber and vitamins such as C and A, and the texture of this vegetable can help remove particles and bacteria from your teeth,” adds Sobh. “Just keep dental floss nearby, as celery can be very stringy and get stuck between teeth.” César Sauza, RDN at NCHC adds that both raw celery and raw cucumber are helpful due to their H2O levels. “Celery and cucumber are mostly water, providing a rinse for our teeth when we chew them,” he says, noting that they're a perfect after-meal snack. However, according to celebrity cosmetic dentist Bill Dorfman, DDS, you should proceed with caution when it comes to using abrasives, as they probably won't have the long-lasting effects you're looking for. “Some foods have a mild abrasive effect that can make teeth white, but they only remove surface stains that build up on the surface of teeth over time,” he says. “The color of a person's teeth is determined by the natural shade of dentin, the layer underneath the enamel, and this varies from person to person depending on genetics and age.” Dorfman adds that if you also eat foods that discolor teeth, such as sodas, red wine and coffee, these crunchy foods are unlikely to have any effect.

4. Baking soda

Although isn't a snack, this ingredient is one of the oldest remedies for a whiter smile. You may even notice it advertised on the toothpaste you buy. “Baking soda has often been considered a natural home remedy for whitening,” says Becker, also adding a caveat. “Be careful when using baking soda, as using it too often can be abrasive to your teeth.” Nevertheless, Kutlany recommends introducing baking soda into your routine. “A small amount of baking soda mixed with toothpaste can help brighten teeth as part of your routine,” he says.

5. Carrots

Freshly harvested carrots from a home garden are washed under a tap in a domestic .

Carrots also fall under the category of “natural abrasives”, meaning they can potentially help remove surface stains. “Chewing crunchy, raw carrot sticks massages your gums and helps remove plaque and bacteria from your teeth,” says Sobh. “Carrots also help strengthen your tooth enamel by providing a large amount of vitamin A.”

Jeffrey Sultizer, DMD, clinical director at SmileDirectClub, also points out that the hard texture of carrots can “help remove excess bacteria left on teeth and gums.”

Apples and leafy greens can have a similar effect, says Becker.

6. Sugar-free gum

Kutlay also recommends sugar-free gum after every meal. “It helps keep teeth clean, maintains brightness, removes any residue between teeth, and [a] the added benefit of reducing acidity and cavities,” he says.

Sobh also has sugar-free gum on his list of useful foods, citing it as a useful alternative to on the go – just don't reach for the super-sweet brands.

“Gum also promotes saliva flow, which helps prevent plaque buildup and degradation of your teeth,” she says. “But be warned, this only applies to sugar-free gum.”

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7. Dairy products

From an early age, we've been taught that calcium helps support strong bones, including your teeth.

“Dairy products like cheese, yogurt and milk provide calcium and phosphates that strengthen enamel and promote remineralization, potentially reducing surface staining,” explains Oakes.

Sulitzer notes that these types of foods also fight cavities, and Larouche notes that dairy products rich in lactic acid, including cottage cheese, sour cream and Greek yogurt, are all the more beneficial.

“Lactic acid helps protect your tooth enamel, and we don't want to lose that because once it's gone, it's gone,” she says. “Underneath the tooth enamel is dentin, which is what stains most easily. So by protecting your tooth enamel, you're essentially helping your teeth stay white.”

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