4 Natural Teeth Whitening Options That Work

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4 Natural Teeth Whitening Remedies that work- charcoal-coconut oil-toothpate-turmeric
Wellness Mama » Blog » Beauty » 4 Natural Teeth Whitening Options That Work

Teeth whitening is a multi-billion dollar industry, but unfortunately many teeth whitening treatments contain harsh chemicals that can leave teeth feeling sensitive for a long time. I had sensitive teeth for years after my high school attempts at teeth whitening (at home and at the dentist office).

Once I became pregnant with our first child, I was careful to avoid all chemicals, including those normally used to whiten teeth. I wanted to find natural ways to whiten my teeth that not only worked well, but were also safe. Since chemicals can easily absorb through the sensitive skin in the mouth, I wanted to only use options that were safe enough to eat.

Of course, none of these things are a replacement for normal dental care and I asked my dentist before using these (you should too!). I’ve found that these methods work great along side my normal brushing and flossing routine.

1. Charcoal

how to whiten teeth naturally with charcoalMy first and favorite teeth whitening remedy is also the most controversial: Activated Charcoal.

This was recommended to me by a holistic dentist years ago and though I was skeptical at first, I gave it a try and have been impressed with the results over time.

Yes, it looks terrifying while you are doing it and you will absolutely think for a minute that you were duped by a blogger into permanently staining your teeth. Then, you’ll rinse your mouth and brush as usual and notice that your teeth are not only white again, but possibly whiter.

This works because activated charcoal is a highly absorbent porous substance that binds to things like tannins that stain teeth and leave them yellow or brown. It might also have other benefits for the mouth as well:

Further research I’ve done on this showed that activated charcoal can actually be helpful in changing the pH and health of the mouth, and as such is effective in avoiding cavities and killing the bad bacteria present in tooth decay and gingivitis. For this reason, I now suggest and use it as part of my remineralizing protocol for teeth, along with my remineralizing toothpaste.

When I first wrote about this in 2012, it was controversial and I actually got hate mail (really) for trying to convince people to do something that was obviously going to stain their teeth. These days, I see pictures of it floating around Pinterest, so it seems to have gained a little acceptance.

Some important things I’ve discovered over the years:

  • Keep a microfiber cloth on hand to make cleanup easy as it can make a mess on counters and sinks (though it will come out of them as well)
  • I simply dip my toothbrush into some powdered charcoal that I keep in a small jar on my counter and brush as normal. Another way that will produce results more quickly is to mix a teaspoon of charcoal powder into some water and swish with it for a few minutes. Then, spit the water and leave the remaining charcoal in the mouth for a few minutes so that it has time to bind to stains.
  • It is super important to use activated charcoal from a food/medical grade source. This is not the same as charcoal from your BBQ grill…do not use that.
  • I did this every day for a week when I started and now maintain by using it once a week or so.
  • I felt comfortable brushing with charcoal during pregnancy since oral health is even more important then, and it is spit out and not consumed. I checked with my midwife first (and you should too if pregnant).

Full tutorial and video are here. Now I just use my Wellnesse Charcoal Toothpaste!

p.s. If you want to take it up a notch, I’ve since discovered this teeth whitening system that uses activated charcoal and LED light for maximum whitening and love the results. It’s also less messy than the above… bonus!

2. Oil Pulling

Coconut Oil Pulling - How to use coconut oil to improve oral healthAnother oddly controversial teeth whitener: oil pulling.

The basic concept here is swishing oil (like sesame or coconut) in the mouth for 20 minutes to help remove plaque and bacteria from the mouth. Coconut oil has been proven effective against the streptococcus mutans bacteria that contributes to cavities and gum disease.

Since beginning oil pulling on a regular basis, I’ve noticed that my teeth are smooth and shiny and the dental assistants have commented that I had very little plaque at recent cleanings.

What to do: Swish with a small amount of coconut oil for 20 minutes a day, preferably first thing in the morning before eating. I make single use size coconut oil pulling chews to make this even easier and do this while showering.

Here is the oil pulling tutorial and this post specifically addresses using coconut oil.

3. Whitening Toothpaste

Homemade Whitening Toothpast RecipeLast year, I combined a few of my favorite teeth whitening ingredients to make a homemade whitening toothpaste. It only contains:

This combines natural calcium (a mineral that teeth need) with Xylitol, which is helpful for oral health, and MCT or coconut oil for a remineralizing, bacteria fighting whitening toothpaste.

Here’s the recipe.

4. Turmeric

Turmeric-Antioxidant and Immune Boosting SpiceAnother counter-intuitive remedy that actually works. Turmeric is known for staining things yellow (including cloth, skin and other surfaces) and it has even been used as a dye for cloth in the past. It isn’t the first thing you’d think of for whitening teeth, but it works surprisingly well.

Mommypotamus explains why and provides a tutorial here.

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Steven Lin, who is a Board accredited dentist trained at the University of Sydney. With a background in biomedical science, he is a passionate whole-health advocate, focusing on the link between nutrition and dental health. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor or dentist.

Ever whitened your teeth? Naturally or not so much? Did it work?

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


92 responses to “4 Natural Teeth Whitening Options That Work”

  1. odunmi Avatar

    I do use charcoal when I was younger. It works. I still use it once in awhile when I notice any stain on my teeth.

  2. Alex Haris Avatar
    Alex Haris

    Thanks for this article. Scrubbing with orange peel on teeth is also good for teeth whitening.

  3. Sade Patmon Avatar
    Sade Patmon

    I have really bad yellow brownish discoloration on front two teeth… Caused by something my mom took during her pregnancy. Will the charcoal remove the stains.

    1. Christian P. Marriott Avatar
      Christian P. Marriott


      Not being able to see your teeth, I am making a guess that the discolouration is not the enamel but the dentin underneath.

      Oil pulling, charcoal or turmeric will clean the enamel which would normally give the impression of whiter. But the issue is below the surface. This is not to say you should not try them. They are all safe practices and cheap.

      I would talk to your dentist about this.

      Kind regards


  4. Maribel Avatar

    I tried coconut oil but didn’t help very much then I went to try tumeric today and it worked, just add a teaspoon of it in a little bowl or plate and also add one teaspoon of water with the tumeric, dip your toothpaste in it and brush for about two minutes then spit out and rinse with warm water.

  5. Deanna Avatar

    I mixed up some turmeric with organic coconut oil and brush my teeth with it every couple of days. I noticed right away a difference. I don’t add anything else to it as I don’t want to use too many abrasives on my teeth. It is very messy. I have to stand over the sink with some toilet tissue folded up under my bottom lip so I don’t drip and stain my clothes or anything else. I’ve had it on my face before and ended up using makeup to cover it up! Next time I was more careful!

  6. Diane Savage Avatar
    Diane Savage

    I have never heard of some of these item you mention ….. Lot less to even begin to go and find/buy them.

    … Pure Calcium Carbonate Powder
    Non-GMO Xylitol Powder
    MCT oil (I’ve also used this less expensive one with good results)

    what the hell is this stuff?

    1. Angel Avatar


      Whilst you should always check with your midwife activated charcoal should be fine during pregnancy. I was given it in A&E when I was pregnant and that was to actually drink. When using it for your teeth you don’t actually swallow making it even safer.

      If you are concerned, please check with your doctor, midwife or pharmacist but I can’t see any problem with using it during pregnancy. So long as it is activated charcoal and not ‘normal’ charcoal.

      Hope this helps!

  7. Alex Lane Avatar

    Thanks for some ideas. But, charcoal, really? I have definitely never heard of that as a valid teeth whitening method. I’m curious and want to try it now. I have been trying a few other ideas, but with slow results. It definitely sounds like a good idea to be prepared, cloth in hand, for the clean up. Thanks again for the idea.

    1. Angel Avatar

      I was amazed at the results after using it just once! Though to be fair I smoke and whilst my teeth don’t look like smokers teeth (probably because I am still young) I had noticed one of them starting to look a tad yellow. Using this method once was enough to get all my teeth looking pearly white again, including the one that had started to yellow! I couldn’t believe it since I, too, was sceptical. It is now part of my routine.

      I simply mixed some activated charcoal (which I already had in stock since I use it for eye-liner and eye shadow), mixed it with some distilled water (though I imagine even tap water is fine) in a pot, ran the closed pot under the hot tap for a minute since I have sensitive teeth then used just like mouthwash. Except you hold it in your mouth for a good few minutes. I find that the perfect amount of time to mix up a face mask and apply it, then get some oats in my old stockings to put in the bath.

  8. Chuck Legrand Avatar
    Chuck Legrand

    I had never heard of using charcoal to clean teeth before reading your article. You would think it would stain your teeth! Where could I look to find activated charcoal to use for this though? I appreciate your help and your response in advance!

    1. Angel Avatar

      I bought mine in bulk from Amazon, but you can also buy activated charcoal capsules and tablets in health food/ supplement shops (in the UK we have Holland and Barrett’s) and some chemists.

      If you buy capsules, simply carefully remove the covering and use the powder within, if you buy tablets you can crush it (or chew it if you’d prefer). If you are buying from Amazon etc be sure to buy a find powder since it saves you work.

  9. Janet Avatar

    This *may* have been commented already… BUT Do NOT use turmeric if you have invisilign… stains the “buttons” that hold your trays in yellow. unpleasant 🙁

  10. Sarah Avatar

    In my grandmother’s times,they used charcoal and it was the only toothpaste available in her home.It was made by burning chaff(not sure this is the word,the outer layer) of rice,after the rice separated.(we are from South India)
    I am sorry you got hate mail for introducing a very natural thousand year old method and thanks for reminding me of a childhood routine that was so natural and forgotten.

  11. Jon Jones Avatar
    Jon Jones

    Another Process to whiten your teeth is to make paste with baking soda and lemon juice,and then apply the paste in your tooth,

  12. Deppi Avatar

    Thank you so much for sharing this!!! I have been brushing with turmeric for a week now and every day my teeth become whiter. I am definitely going to try the activated charcoal as well. Thank you, thank you!!!!!

  13. Felicia Avatar

    To add to this, I also gargle with “On Guard” (Doterra) essential oil mixed with water as a mouth wash. On guard is a natural cleaner that you can even use for natural homemade cleaner. I also add peppermint as well to freshen and help wake me up.

    I do coconut oil pulling daily as well.

  14. Callie Marie Avatar
    Callie Marie

    Thanks for the teeth whitening tips. You are right, that charcoal whitening picture looks terrifying! It’s strange that something as messy as charcoal can actually be used to brighten your smile. I’ll try out your methods as soon as I can and see which ones works best for me.

  15. Kelly Pallesen Avatar
    Kelly Pallesen

    How do you keep the coconut oil in your mouth for 20 minutes?! haha I find that when I am swishing it around my saliva starts building up to and I have to spit or I start accidentally swallowing some.

    1. LIsa Miller Avatar
      LIsa Miller

      I find I have to spit a little (outdoors or in the trash, I don’t want my pipes to clog) at about 15 minutes. It doesn’t matter, the saliva and coconut oil are still doing their job.

    2. ari Avatar

      tilt your head forward when you first start to oil pull, simultaneously do some other morning activities to keep you distracted, like putting away clean dishes, etc, soon 20 min will pass by before you realize it, you will get used to it and it will be super easy

  16. Lily de Grey Avatar
    Lily de Grey

    Hey, Katie. These look like promising teeth whitening methods. I haven’t tried activated charcoal, but I’ve heard that, for some, it has been effective. I have some turmeric in my spice cabinet, so I’ll likely try that first. Thanks for writing this article; hopefully I’ll get my smile back!

    Lily de Grey

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