Can you naturally whiten teeth?

Looking for ways to brighten your smile? Experts give their verdict on natural teeth whitening home remedies.

When it comes to brightening your pearly whites, there are plenty of home remedies around.

But experts warn some of the more popular methods may do more harm than good.

So which teeth whitening remedies are best avoided?

Oil pulling

Australian Dental Association oral health promoter Dr Mikaela Chinotti says the ancient practice involves swishing oil (usually coconut oil) around your mouth for 20 minutes.

“The Australian Dental Association doesn’t recommend using oil pulling as part of your everyday oral health routine,” Dr Chinotti says.

“The evidence-based data is very limited. Plus it’s quite a time-consuming practice, typically it takes around 15 to 20 minutes.”

Baking soda

The Wellness Group naturopath Madeline Calfas says baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, can be abrasive.

“If you use it too much, you’ll start to wear away your tooth enamel, and once that tooth enamel is gone, it’s gone for good, it does not regenerate,” Madeline warns.

Dr Chinotti says typically baking soda is mixed in a bowl to create a paste.

“If people are using it occasionally, it’s not going to ruin their teeth, but it’s not going to whiten the colour as such. What it may help with is outside surface level stains on the teeth,” she says.

Studies have found baking soda can help remove some surface stains from teeth.

Dr Chinotti recommends using toothpastes formulated with baking soda, which have antibacterial properties to protect teeth.


Rubbing banana peels on your teeth is another old remedy thought to whiten teeth.

Dr Chinotti says while fruit is not bad for our teeth, it does contain natural sugar.

“If it’s consumed in excess, and allowed to be exposed to the teeth for long periods of time, damage like tooth decay can happen,” Dr Chinotti warns.

She says exposing teeth to lemons for extended periods of time should also be avoided.

How to prevent tooth stains

Madeline says when it comes to keeping teeth white, prevention is better than cure.

“Brushing is going to be your best friend,” Madeline says.

“But remember don’t brush too vigorously, because it can damage the gums and tooth enamel.”

Dr Chinotti advises brushing twice a day, morning and night.

“Once you’ve finished brushing, spit out the excess toothpaste but do not rinse out your mouth with water,” Dr Chinotti says.

“By not rinsing, this leaves a thin layer of toothpaste on the surface of your teeth helping to protect them for longer.”

The Australian Dental Association recommends: 

  • Brushing teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Cleaning between your teeth daily using floss or interdental brushes
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet and limiting added sugar intake
  • Visiting the dentist regularly for check-ups and preventive care

There are many factors that can cause your teeth to lose their sparkle.

Dr Chinotti recommends avoiding or limiting:

  • Tobacco
  • Sugary drinks
  • Red wine
  • Black coffee and tea

How can you whiten teeth safely?

Dr Chinotti says the best way to whiten your teeth safely is under the guidance of a dentist.

“So that may be whitening at the dental clinic or at home under supervision and guidance,” Dr Chinotti says.

Written by Bianca Carmona.