You thought to brighten your teeth was something only a job for a dentist or over-priced product? Nope. Your favorite whole living columnist is here to share some tips and tricks to brightening your smile and detoxifying your gums au naturel.  Sorry not sorry for admitting this, but the very first thing I notice about someone is their smile. Not in an “Oh, I think you’re sweet kind of way,” but more like “Do you practice regular dental hygiene?” kind of way. My obsession with teeth is borderline odd, but my dentist loves me, and her opinion is the only one I care about right now.

Ahead, I’m sharing a step by step process to brighten your smile without using harsh chemicals or products that overpromise and under-deliver.

Step 1: Floss

How often? Daily.

I’d like to assume no “why” is needed here, but considering a whopping 32% of the population admits to never flossing, I realize that is not a safe assumption. To put it frankly, your mouth houses over five hundred different bacterial species. The good news is that some of these are good bacteria; meaning they prevent exogenous microorganisms from colonizing in your mouth. The bad news is that when bad bacteria mixes with food, water and other elements, plaque can build up on your teeth and along your gum line causing oral diseases when left untreated. My advice: don’t let it come to this. Cleaning between your teeth is a vital step in practicing oral hygiene.  Interdental cleaning is proven to remove plaque build-up caused by your toothbrush missing those hard to reach places. I prefer interdental cleaners to floss, but because both are great options, it comes down to preference. However, I do recommend that you speak to your dentist on how to use an interdental cleaner to ensure you’re being effective in properly cleaning your teeth.

Step 2: Oil Pull

How often? 20 minutes Daily.

Let’s start with the how:

First – Melt 1 tbs of coconut oil.

Then – Swish oil around in the mouth for 15-20 minutes.

Last – Spit oil out in the toilet.

I’ll be honest, when I first started oil pulling it made me want to throw up. I’m a texture phobe, so I am warning you- do not listen to the lies that you don’t have to pre-melt the coconut oil. I’m your friend; I’m rooting for you, melt the coconut oil and thank me later. It’s okay if you can’t do this for the full 20 minutes at first. I started with 5 minutes and gradually worked my way up to 20. I’ll let you in on a little secret; it helps to oil pull in the shower, so you aren’t just sitting around thinking about the icky bacteria you’re pulling from your gums.

Okay, now that we’ve got how – let’s tackle the why.

Oil pulling activates detoxifying enzymes that have a powerful impact on our entire system. Something as simple as swishing oil around in your mouth can literally pull toxins, bacteria, and fungus from your mouth. It’s essential for oral health, but long-time pullers claim that oil pulling has alleviated migraines, asthma, diabetes, chronic blood disorders, and of course diseased teeth.

You can check out my article, 4 Grocery Item Must Haves For A Glowing Life, for recommendations on coconut oil brands and to learn why it’s a vital part of my morning and night routine.

Step 3: Brush with Activated Charcoal

How often? Weekly.

As you assume that I’m the crazy whole living columnist who tries all of the new health fads, let me just confirm that I am the crazy whole living columnist who tries all of the new health fads. It may seem counterproductive to brush with a product that stains everything, but activated charcoal is a highly absorbent substance that just so happens to remove toxins and surface stains from your teeth.

To get started, you’ll want to dump a charcoal capsule onto a clean, wet toothbrush or dip your wet toothbrush into powdered charcoal. To prevent dirtying up your sink, quickly put the toothbrush in your mouth and brush in small, gentle circles for 2 minutes. Spit carefully and rinse well.

Step 4: Brush with Toothpaste

How often? Twice daily.

Of course, the obvious last step is to brush your teeth twice a day with an all-natural toothpaste. Tom’s brand is my personal favorite, but your local natural grocer will have trial sizes of other brands for you to try. As my dentist says, you brush your teeth in the morning to keep your friends; you brush at night to keep your teeth.

So, fear not my fellow Cabernet and Americano lovers! With these simple steps in my hygiene routine, I’m able to keep sipping my favorite drinks without fear of dimming my smile. You, too, can enjoy a brighter and healthier smile by adding these daily and weekly oral hygiene practices to your armory.