DISCLOSURE: Noelle Copeland RDH is the oral care specialist and dental consultant to the Brilliant and Baby Buddy oral care lines through Compac Industries. See terms below
Baking soda was coined and marketed in the 1800’s but it was actually discovered in the 1700s by two American bakers, and was called “Soda Ash”!
Baking soda is a salt that reacts with an acid to create carbon dioxide. Even though “Baking Soda” is naturally occurring, it is often created through a mining process. In the United States commercially processed baking soda is mined from “Ore” that is heated until it turns into “Soda Ash”, then carbon dioxide is added to the soda ash, which then creates “Baking Soda”!
I find that history quite fascinating myself, I had no idea baking soda was so… sophisticated and complex.
So what can baking soda actually do for you, outside of cleaning your home or making your cookies and homemade breads soft and fluffy? Well, when it comes to oral care, baking soda is a keeper, when used correctly, so let’s talk about the pro’s and con’s of usage.
Pros of Brushing Teeth with Baking Soda
- Reduces plaque and bacteria
- Whitens teeth by removing more surface stains
- Leaves teeth feeling smooth and clean
- Disrupts the biofilm
- Can be used one to two times a week, but no more
- When used correctly, protects the enamel of the teeth
- Helps with bad breath
- Promotes a more alkaline oral environment
- Helps treat mouth ulcers
- Great agent to use against the stain obtained from consumption of coffee, tea, and tobacco
Baking soda brushing can damage your teeth if not used correctly, or if used too often… and to be honest, if it works… then you may need to step up your homecare routine. The baking soda is really just being more of an abrasive scrubbing agent against the tooth surface. Essentially, removing the plaque and biofilm that you are missing during your regular brushing routine.
**The best way to battle tooth stain, is with EXCELLENT daily homecare, before stain ever gets a chance to adhere**
Cons of Brushing Teeth with Baking Soda
- Tastes gritty and feels rough while using
- Can be over used and damage the teeth
- Is more abrasive
- Does not have Fluoride or Xylitol
- Repeated use can soften some of the dental adhesives used for attaching oral appliances like braces or bonded retainers.
- Not recommended sensitive teeth and gums
If you use a specialty toothbrush or a soft toothbrush for sensitive teeth, I would NOT recommend using a baking soda slurry. Especially when dealing with sensitive teeth. Baking soda may aggravate your sensitive teeth and tissues more, causing you to brush less effectively.
Why would someone want to use baking soda on their teeth? Usually, it’s because they want to whiten their teeth.
Here are some things to consider if you want whiter teeth.
When was the last time you had your teeth professionally cleaned?
If you are overdue for your professional hygiene cleaning, then you may have built up surface stains darkening your smile. The foods and drinks we consume daily can extrinsically (outside surface) stain our teeth. In some cases the yellowing people see creep up on their teeth is actually plaque and tartar attached to the tooth that is stained and physically stuck to the tooth’s enamel surface. A simple trip to the dentist for a professional cleaning from your hygienist will do wonders to clean off stain and build up.
However, cavities in the teeth can also become discolored. They need to be evaluated and addressed immediately so they don’t grow bigger. If you suddenly see brown and black places on your teeth, see your dentist to rule out or address any active decay.
Do you have existing dental work in your mouth?
If you have any existing dental work, especially on your front teeth, like fillings, crowns, veneers, or even root canal treated teeth, the color of those teeth will not bleach or lighten as your natural tooth structure will. Anytime the natural tooth structure has been replaced by a restorative dental material, like a filling, veneer or crown, the shade that is used is permanent, and can only be changed by replacing the restoration.
Root canaled teeth have had their infected pulp removed, filled and sealed and this can cause shadowing in the dentinal structure of the tooth, therefore causing the tooth to darken over time. If this is the case, the tooth has to be internally bleached, from the inside of the tooth, to get the most effective results. If you have existing dental work, especially if it’s on your front teeth, you should see your dental professional for a thorough evaluation BEFORE doing whiting services.
However, if you don’t need to address any of the situations above, there are some great ways to naturally whiten your teeth at home, before scheduling a visit to your dentist.
- You generally have healthy teeth and gums, with no active periodontal disease.
- You visit the dentist regularly and don’t have ongoing dental issues that need to be addressed.
Whitening your teeth at home
When it comes to whitening your smile, there are numerous other options out there, but when it comes to safety, efficacy and results, these are the best options for home whitening and they cost the least too.
Watch your diet
If you’re a nightly wine drinker or you hit the coffee/tea pot pretty regularly, surface stains from food and drinks may be your nemesis to battle. Be sure your homecare routine is tight and daily, striving for a quick brush after lunch for a third session if you really want to be that extra kind of special.
Brush effectively in the morning and at night. Brush especially well before bed, to remove the days food residue, include 2 minutes of total brushing time, reaching each tooth surface and your tongue and then flossing and rinsing. Consider using a whitening toothpaste to help remove stubborn surface stains.
** NOTE: Rinse your mouth with plain water after having coffee/tea/wine, this helps to remove the natural tannins that can attach to and darken the appearance of teeth**
Brush with a baking soda slurry
When using baking soda as toothpaste to remove surface stains
- Put baking soda in a small dish
- Wet your toothbrush
- Dip the brush head in the baking soda
- Bush as you normally do
Health always comes first.
If your teeth are not sitting in a healthy foundation (your gum tissue and bone) then you are literally wasting your time worrying about having whiter teeth. That sounds harsh, but someone out there needs to hear it. I have discussed this many times over the years with many patients who ask for whiter teeth before asking “are my teeth and gums healthy”. So that’s why I’m telling you, because I realize some people just don’t know… what they don’t know…healthy teeth first, whiter teeth afterward.
Always talk to your dental professional about any concerns you may have about your homecare routine.
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