Ever compare your smile with the smiles of your friends in photos? I know this may sound vain, but I can't help being a little envious when I notice a brighter, whiter smile than my own. With all the zooming in and photo sharing these days, I don’t want to be the person with the yellow teeth! For years I would buy anything that claimed to whiten my pearly off-whites. Gum and teeth sensitivity are common reactions to the chemicals found in products known to whiten teeth, yet I continued to endure the sting of these chemicals for a long time—until I found natural alternatives! The best smiles come naturally, so why not bring brilliance to your smile in a more natural way as well?

1. Have cheese for dessert

Skip the sweets as your after dinner treat and have a piece of cheese instead. I personally love cheese and don't mind this swap at all! Cheese and other dairy carry calcium and alkali. The alkali found in these foods neutralizes any acid that's left over from your meal and encourages salivation. Saliva aids in the prevention of bacteria growth while the calcium helps rebuild enamel—the protective, outermost material of your teeth that stains. Plus, it’s an excuse to eat more cheese. Win-win!

2. Eat strawberries

Strawberries are such a bright red color that you may think they would be one of your teeth's worst enemies, but actually, they're quite friendly to your mouth! Strawberries contain a natural astringent that works on your teeth's surface stains. While this astringent removes enamel blemishes, the vitamin C found in strawberries helps clear away the plaque that causes cavities.

3. Rinse with water

I understand the perils of trying to give up coffee and tea. Since I’m not going to get off the java anytime soon, I drink it with a straw and make sure to wash my mouth out thoroughly after I have a cup (this is also a good habit to follow after drinking red wine). Just as you would rinse a coffee mug out after drinking coffee, rinse your precious teeth out, too, and you may find your smile improving in no time!

4. Eat crunchy fruit and vegetables

Crunchy fruits like apples and celery provide wholesome goodness not just for your insides, but for your teeth, too. Since crunchy fruits and veggies require more chewing to break them down, they help clean your teeth as you eat. For example, apples are naturally abrasive and clean your enamel with each bite. They also naturally contain malic acid, which is the same chemical used in teeth whiteners!