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Baking Soda and Your Teeth

Inexpensive ingredients can be just as effective as costly ones when it comes to improving your smile. Baking soda, the same white powder you use to clean your sink or deodorize your refrigerator, may also help you brighten your smile.

How Does Baking Soda Work?

Brushing with baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate as its formally known, remove plaque from your teeth and reduces staining. Clear, sticky plaque builds up on your teeth throughout the day. Bacteria found in plaque combines with sugar in foods and beverages to form acids that attack your tooth enamel, causing cavities. Although consuming sugary foods increases your cavity risk, eating foods that contain carbohydrates is just as bad for your teeth. When you take a bite of a potato chip or bread, enzymes in your saliva break down the carbohydrates into sugars.

Thanks to its abrasive qualities, baking soda helps dislodge and remove plaque, preventing the chemical reaction that creates damaging acids. Alkaline baking soda also lightens surface stains, making your teeth appear whiter.

How Effective is Baking Soda?

Baking soda reduces bacteria and decreases acidity in the mouth, according to a report in the November 2017 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association. When the oral acidity level is lower, it's easier for fluoride in toothpastes to remineralize, or rebuild, weak areas of tooth enamel.

The addition of baking soda to toothpastes may also help lower the risk of gum disease. Both bacteria and tartar contribute to the development of the painful disease. Tartar, a hard deposit that forms if plaque remains on the teeth for a week or longer, can't be removed by brushing your teeth. Fortunately, tartar can be scraped away during your twice-yearly dental cleanings.

A study published in The Journal of Clinical Dentistry in December 2012 examined whether Arm & Hammer White Extreme Whitening Baking Soda and Peroxide toothpaste was more effective in whitening teeth than a silica-based toothpaste. Participants who brushed with the Arm & Hammer toothpaste saw a 2.5 shade difference after six weeks, while those who used the silica-based toothpaste didn't notice a difference. Although baking soda toothpastes can brighten your smile to some extent, the teeth whitening treatments dentists offer often provide more impressive results.

Should I Brush with Pure Baking Soda or Use a Toothpaste That Contains Baking Soda?

If a little baking soda added to toothpaste produces positive results, you may be wondering if it's a good idea to skip the toothpaste and use pure baking soda instead. After all, entire generations used baking soda to clean their teeth before toothpaste was invented.

Although baking soda does clean your teeth effectively, using the powder regularly may eventually erode your tooth enamel. If the enamel begins to wear away, the yellower dentin layer will be exposed. As a result, your smile will appear duller. Combining baking soda with lemon juice or vinegar in an attempt to intensify the whitening effects can also lead to enamel erosion and yellower teeth. Baking soda toothpastes that also contain hydrogen peroxide, a natural whitener, offer a safer way to lighten teeth.

The addition of fluoride to toothpastes has had a dramatic effect in reducing the number of cavities in both adults and children. If you only use baking soda to brush your teeth, you won't benefit from the important protection that fluoride offers.

Toothpastes that combine both baking soda and fluoride makes it easy to clean, whiten and protect your smile at the same time. If you do prefer to use baking soda, consider also brushing with fluoridated toothpaste several times per week to reduce your tooth decay risk.

Whether you have a toothache, are due for a checkup or want whiter teeth, we can help you improve your smile and your oral health. Call us today to schedule your appointment.


Journal of the American Dental Association: Baking Soda Dentifrices and Oral Health, 11/17

Colgate: Does Baking Soda Whiten Teeth

The Journal of Clinical Dentistry: Enhancement of Plaque Removal by Baking Soda Toothpastes from Less Accessible Areas in Dentition, 1/11

The Journal of Clinical Dentistry: Effectiveness of a New Dentrifice with Baking Soda and Peroxide in Removing Extrinsic Stain and Whitening Teeth, 12/12

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