A whiter and brighter smile can not only make us feel great but also give our confidence a boost. However, what we eat and drink can directly affect the appearance of teeth and leave many with a less desirable smile. While a visit to the dentist can restore teeth’s whiteness at a hefty price, there are budget-friendly ways to restore our dental health. It’s time to turn that frown upside down with these six natural ways to restore and maintain our whiter teeth from the comfort of our own home.

1. Use baking soda as toothpaste and whitener

The popular pantry product has long been used as a substitute for toothpaste to clean teeth, but it’s also no surprise that it doubles as a teeth whitener. The chemical structure of baking soda is a mild abrasive which can help explain why it’s effective in removing surface stains from our teeth. Baking soda’s soft crystals, according to the American Chemical Society, dissolve easily in water, which allows the baking soda itself to penetrate deeply into the edges of our teeth and hard-to-reach places compared to other common abrasives. However, it is because of this very abrasive nature that this should be used as a teeth whitener only once or twice a month.

2. Chew Gum

Although this may sound counterintuitive, chewing sugar-free gum can actually help reduce the levels of acid and harmful bacteria in our mouth. The natural act of chewing gum helps stimulate the production of saliva that contains surfactants and special enzymes that can protect our teeth from staining. As we age, our salivary glands shrink and produce less saliva. Therefore, chewing gum can help increase the saliva flow and further prevent decay.

3. Munch on Fresh Fruits and Veggies

The dynamic duo has made yet another health list: Fruits and vegetables' health-boosting properties extend to dental hygiene. Snacking on raw carrots, celery, and crisp apples acts as a natural, abrasive way to clean our tooth enamel without leading to any damage. As a rule of thumb, the crunchier the fruit or vegetable, the better.

Dr. Jeff Golub-Evans, a cosmetic dentist in New York City, told Women’s Health Magazine, “Foods that are high in cellulose — a strong starchlike compound found in celery, carrots, and apples — act as natural abrasives, cleansing teeth and removing surface stains naturally.” Moreover, Golub-Evans added greens such as spinach, broccoli, and lettuce contain mineral compounds that actually form a film over teeth, so the pigments from other foods don’t cause stains.

4. Eat Cheese (or dairy overall) and Smile

Eating cheese or any dairy products are good for your dental health due to their high calcium content that is essential for strong bones, teeth, and preventing bone loss. Lactic acid, found in dairy products, acts to strengthen the enamel and prevent decay. Strengthening the enamel will protect the dentin that sits behind it. Consuming foods such as dairy that protect our enamel will help our dentin, and therefore preserve the whiteness of our teeth.

5. Rub Strawberries on Teeth

If you like the taste of strawberries, then you will love the surprising benefit of the superfood. Berries, which are naturally high in vitamin C, can help remove plaque buildup on our teeth, while the malic acid can prevent and remove stains, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry. Simply slice and rub strawberries on your teeth or mix them into a pulp with toothpaste. It’s best to let this sit for a total of five minutes on your teeth before you rinse your mouth out with water.

6. Oil pulling

The recent popular trend of oil pulling is known as an ancient Ayurvedic remedy, which claims to promote good oral health and dental hygiene. Swishing oils such as coconut, sunflower, and sesame in the mouth for a short time each morning before breakfast, some claim, cuts through plaque and extracts toxins from the body. Coconut oil pulling fans also rave about whiter teeth.

These teeth whitening at-home remedies are not meant to replace a visit to the dentist but to help keep your teeth whiter and brighter for the time being.