When you were growing up, I'm thinking it's pretty safe to assume that you were taught to brush and floss your teeth after every meal. Now that you're grown, be real—do you still do that? After each and every meal? While we're on the subject, do you also brush for no less than two minutes? Each and every time?
I did some digging around and it would appear that only 44 percent of men and 37 percent of women actually brush at least twice a day and 30 percent of us floss every day. This means there are millions out of us out here who are on the way to having weak teeth, dingy enamel and stank breath (if we don't have these things already). And let's not even get into how many of us don't see the dentist as much as we should (word on the street is it's 1 out of every 3 three who skip out on annual visits).
Once our big girl teeth come in, we're not going to get another set. That's why it's imperative that we're as proactive about caring for our biters. Yes, this should include brushing, flossing and taking that semi-dreadful visit to the dentist every year. But it also includes doing some things at home that will help to make our teeth stronger and whiter too.
10 All-Natural Teeth Whitening & Strengthening Tips
1.Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide
Not all of us have sparkling white teeth. Not because we don't take good care of them, but because they aren't a part of our genetic make-up. But if the enamel on your teeth is dingier than normal, it could be due to consuming lots of coffee and soda, eating too much sugar, breathing through your mouth instead of your nose (dry mouth leads to more bacteria), long-term antibiotic use and aging.
A way to get your teeth back bright again? Brushing them with a mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. The baking soda is effective because the grittiness of it serves as a kind of tooth exfoliant. Also, the bicarbonate that's in the soda helps to balance out the acids that can sometimes cause oral bacteria to thrive, ultimately leading to gingivitis and bad breath. Hydrogen peroxide whitens teeth due to its ability to penetrate past your teeth's enamel so that it can lighten the discoloration that keeps them from gleaming.
Here's a heads up—I know for a fact that the combo works really well. But because it's also pretty abrasive on teeth, it's best to only brush with this kind of paste no more than a couple of times a week. Otherwise, eventually, you could wear some of your enamel down. And enamel isn't something you can simply "get back".
2.Teeth Strengthening Foods
All of us want to have healthy teeth, but not all of us know what the signs of those are. When your teeth are strong and white—your gums won't bleed (including when you brush them), your breath will be fresh (which is why you should floss after every meal), your teeth won't shift, your gums won't recede and your tongue will be a healthy shade of pink (make sure to brush your tongue, by the way!).
No matter what you may put on your teeth, it's still important that you take care of them from the inside out. One of the best ways to do that is to consume foods that are proven to keep your teeth nice and strong. Ones that are high in calcium (like cheese and yogurt), high in magnesium (like leafy greens and pears), full of live probiotic cultures (like sauerkraut and kefir) and loaded with antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial (like garlic), along with bone broth and butter.
Speaking of butter, it is loaded with vitamins A, vitamin D, and vitamin K2. Some people love it so much when it comes to taking care of their teeth that they even brush with it (pastured, cultured butter is best)!
Alcohol, fluoride, sodium saccharin, sodium lauryl sulfate and cetylpyridinium chloride are just five of the ingredients that are listed on the label of a lot of commercial mouthwash brands. What do they all have in common? They're toxic.
Deciding to make your own mouthwash so that you're able to control the kind of ingredients that are in it is one good reason to do it. Another is because, when you put ingredients in it like calcium carbonate and concentrated trace minerals liquid powder, not only can they help to remineralize your teeth (which is great if your teeth are showing the beginning signs of tooth decay), it can help to whiten your teeth too. You can try a really great DIY mouthwash recipe here.
Strawberries taste great (especially when they are in season which is April through June)! So great that it's kind of a trip how many nutritional benefits they contain. Eating a fresh bowl of strawberries a couple of times a week provides you with lots of antioxidants, potassium, and fiber. Strawberries also have the ability to do everything from improving the health of your heart and fighting precancerous cells to strengthening your eyes, giving your immune system a boost and reducing your blood pressure.
Know what else strawberries can do? Whiten your teeth! Although strawberries are really red in color, they contain a tooth-whitening enzyme called malic acid. It, plus the seeds that are on the strawberries, help to basically exfoliate the stains off of your teeth.
The best way to use strawberries is to mush 1-2 of them and a half teaspoon of baking soda to it. Then brush your teeth like normal, making sure to rinse thoroughly when you're done. It's effective but try not to do this more than once a week; the acid and the baking soda could eventually become too strong for your teeth if you do it more than that.
Green tea is loaded with antioxidants, polyphenols (a compound that reduces body inflammation) and EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate), which is a compound that fights off disease. That's not all. The amino acid L-theanine that's in the tea helps to improve your brain function, the caffeine that's in it can increase your metabolism and burn fat and some studies even reveal that green tea can boost longevity.
The crystalline compound known as catechins that's also in green tea is great for oral health. That's because it kills the kind of bacteria that causes the flu and streptococcus mutans—a bacteria that results in tooth decay and cavities. So yeah, drink up.
Phosphorus is the kind of mineral that a lot of us don't give much thought to, but it's very essential to our overall health and well-being. It assists with bone growth, eliminates toxins, reduces fatigue, helps to prevent arthritis, repairs cells, balances hormones and supports tooth enamel too.
You can take phosphorus as a supplement. But unless you've got an illness, probably the best way to get this mineral into your system is to consume foods that contain a good amount of it. Some of those include mushrooms, quinoa, oatmeal, yogurt, salmon, cheese, tuna, potatoes (with the skin on), cheese and even (cooked) waffles.
If you've never done a little oil pulling before, try it sometime. Out of all of the things that I shared, I can definitely vouch for how clean this process will make your teeth feel! Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic medicine practice that consists of putting a little coconut, sesame or even sunflower oil into your mouth and swishing it around for about 10-15 minutes before spitting it out. It works so well because these kinds of oils have the ability to remove plaque and toxins without damaging your teeth in the process.
Out of all the oils you can try, organic coconut oil is my preference, thanks to the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that are in it. Just make sure to NOT spit the oil out into your sink (it could clog it up over time; use your trash can instead) and that you rinse thoroughly with warm water and brush your teeth immediately following the oil pulling process. That will get rid of any oil residue that's left behind.
The next time you decide to peel an orange, rather than throwing its skin away, eat it. No, seriously! There's plenty of research to support that orange (and lemon) peels contain a flavonoid called hesperidin that will strengthen your immune system, help your body to digest food quicker and easier, protect your respiratory system, increase weight loss and yep, you guessed it—improve your oral health.
First, chewing down on orange peels will whiten your teeth and freshen your breath. As a bonus, it can also decrease teeth sensitivity over time too. Just always keep in mind that due to the high acidic content that are in the peels, you should only do this 1-2 times a week and you should also rinse your mouth out with water right after you do it. Otherwise, you could eventually end up weakening the enamel that's on your teeth.
Do your entire body a favor and, the next time you're at Wal-Mart (or you're perusing Amazon), cop a couple of bottles of clove oil. It's got quite a bit of manganese oil in it (30 percent of your reference daily intake). This is relevant because manganese is a mineral that regulates blood sugar levels, fights PMS symptoms, balances the thyroid, boosts vitamin absorption and even helps to prevent epileptic seizures (which usually come on, in part, by a low level of manganese in one's system).
As far as your teeth and gums go, manganese also helps to keep your teeth healthy and strong. Plus, its potent antibacterial properties are one of the best ways to kill the bacteria that cause gum disease. Also, if you've got a toothache or even a cavity that you can't get immediately treated by your dentist, nothing is quite as soothing as clove oil. It's strong (and that's a major understatement), but I've used it before to relieve pain and it provides an almost immediate numbing sensation that helped me to get an uninterrupted night of sleep. (If you've ever had a toothache before, you know just how much of a blessing that is!)
A kiss from a great kisser is like nothing else on this earth! And while most of us like to focus on the physical sensation and emotional connection that it provides, let's talk about another thing that is happening every time we share a smooch—all of the spit that is going back and forth.
Since our mouths are, hands down, the dirtiest part of our bodies, that's something to think about before you let someone put their tongue down your throat (just sayin'). But once you know your partner's oral hygiene is on the up and up, their extra saliva getting into your mouth will actually help to kill bacteria, wash away debris and raise calcium, fluoride and phosphate ions while producing disease-fighting bacteria that keeps gingivitis at bay.
Pretty crazy, huh? Yet just one more reason to pucker up, just as soon as you can!
Featured image by Getty Images.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Many have wondered if one time is ever enough to see Queen Bey. Some argue yes. However, many of us on the opposite end of the spectrum, including myself, would disagree. Beyoncé's "Renaissance World Tour" is a universal yet varying experience for everyone who attends. In the words of Oprah Winfrey, the concert is "transcendent." For millennials, we have over two decades of her catalog that has served as the soundtrack for many of our lives and painted a personal portrait of our most coveted thoughts. Her music provides mental clarity and self-expression by serving as a universal language that has united fans from all walks of life through community, fashion, self-acceptance, and healing.
With a multi-layered approach to her artistry, just as she did on that winter day in December 2013 with the infamous digital drop of her self-titled album, she changed the game again on February 1, 2023, when she announced her world tour in support of Renaissance, her seventh studio album. Her cultural impact set the internet ablaze, with everyone trying to gather their coins, barter for presale codes, and figure out which cities to attend. The group chats were lit, and the Beyhive was stressed trying to get their hands on tickets.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
Unfortunately, I was in that number. As the concert dates passed by and the one in my city drawing near all roads led to disappointment. With time ticking on the day of the Miami show and less than two hours to spare, my wallet bit the bullet, and I purchased three last-minute tickets, costing roughly $700.00 a piece (including fees) for me, my 9-year-old and 16-year-old nieces in Section 121 at the Hard Rock Stadium. With 10 minutes before showtime, we eagerly awaited the Queen to take the stage. A sea of metallic fringes, cowboy hats, disco fans, and western boots were in full effect and filled the entire stadium.
As the lights dimmed, a flood of emotions instantly overtook my body. It continued with each note she belted, along with nearly 50,000 roaring fans. The reverberating sound of the music through the stadium transported me from one era of my life to the next. As a teen girl in her bedroom daydreaming about her first love to blossoming into an unapologetic Black woman who is still on a road of self-discovery while learning to lean into the power anthem of "You won't break my soul." For over two hours, and with each set, I felt joy, love, peace, and a commanderie with fellow concertgoers. It was therapeutic as I danced like no one was watching and sang as if I were alone in my bathroom mirror.
There were no bars held, and I realized at that moment, "Nobody can judge me but me." The "Renaissance World Tour" proved to be so vast, and my Black girl joy was re-invigorated. It was magnetic and liberating, and I had to attend again, but this time, I needed to be up close and personal; I needed to be on the floor. In the days that passed, I watched more social media clips in different cities and asked myself if I would really splurge again to attend another Renaissance show.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
After all, this would be my thirteenth time (maybe more because I lost count) seeing Beyoncé live, whether she was on tour with Destiny's Child, as a solo artist, or doing a live appearance. I contemplated for a while, but it worked itself out on its own. I was gifted two tickets and the next thing I knew, I was off to LA to attend another Renaissance show with floor seats at SoFi Stadium during Beyonce's 42nd birthday weekend! This time, things were different: no kids were allowed. It was adults only this go round.
Although the energy at the Miami and Los Angeles shows was empowering, infectious, and a celebration of life, happiness, and identity, they each provided their own unique experience. However, both concerts were what I needed for my well-being, leaving me with sore feet from dancing the night away, on vocal rest for the next few days from screaming at the top of my lungs, and on an indefinite high on life.
My introduction and love for Beyoncé began in 1996, while my older sister lived in Houston, TX, right before Bey hit the scene in 1998 with "No, No, No" as a budding R&B member. Her evolution twenty-seven years later as an international superstar and into womanhood has been an incredible journey to witness. As Mrs. Carter reminds each of us in the audience every night before the curtain closes, "I want you to remember this moment, where you're standing, who you came with, and take it with you. I hope you feel inspired."
I truly felt inspired, so thank you, Queen Bey. You awakened my inner child, and I will definitely remember these moments and take them with me.
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Feature image by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood