Baking soda toothpaste can provide multiple benefits, including whitening and stain removal, the neutralization of acids and removal of plaque, fresher breath and more thorough cleaning. A reduction in gum irritation and pain also sometimes occurs, and people often like the fact that it is so extremely mild in terms of abrasiveness. Individuals also sometimes are able to avoid unwanted chemicals and save money.
Whitening and Stain Removal
Sodium bicarbonate or baking soda potentially can whiten teeth in two ways. On a physical level, it is a gentle abrasive that literally scrapes particles that make teeth look stained or yellowed off the tooth enamel. Chemically, when it dissolves in water, it releases free radicals, which penetrate the enamel and react on the molecules that make up the stain, breaking them down. The result is cleaner, whiter-looking teeth.
Although both strong acids and bases can be damaging, dentists often focus on acids in keeping teeth healthy, because bacteria in the mouth break down the sugars from foods into acids that, if not neutralized, can damage enamel and cause cavities or decay. Baking soda is a weak base, so it can neutralize these bacteria-produced acids, as well as the ones already in the foods and drinks people consume. This doesn’t make the enamel any stronger, but it can keep it from deteriorating, maintaining good, pain-free dental function.
Plaque is a essentially a sticky colony of thousands of bacteria, which try to adhere to the teeth. These bacteria convert food sugars into corrosive acids, so getting rid of them is critical to preventing cavities and other forms of decay. The mild abrasiveness of baking soda toothpaste allows it to mechanically remove this built-up bacteria from the enamel.
With acids neutralized and bacteria kept under control through the removal of plaque, people who use baking soda toothpaste often report that they have fresher breath. In some cases, this can have long-reaching implications for social interactions. Some individuals feel more confident when they don’t have to worry about bad mouth odor, so they become more willing to approach and talk to people. Additionally, with the source of the smell greatly reduced, they often find that they can use other breath fresheners such as mints or gum less frequently.
More Thorough Cleaning
Most products designed for cleaning teeth contain hydrated silica, which is a non-toxic, mild abrasive that contributes to the gel-like consistency toothpastes usually have. Not to be confused with its toxic cousin, crystalline silica, it works similarly to baking soda in that it mechanically scrapes teeth clean. Particles are larger than those of sodium bicarbonate, however, which means that baking soda is better at getting into cracks and crevices. This is important, because it is in these locations that bacteria usually breed and covert sugar to harmful acids.
Less Gum Irritation
Bacteria and acids both contribute to irritated gums. A baking soda toothpaste keeps these elements under control, and as a result, inflammation and redness often subside. In fact, some dentists specifically recommend using this type of product or home remedy as a treatment for gum disease. The reduction in pain sometimes means that people have an easier time eating and that consuming foods becomes more enjoyable.
The free radicals produced when baking soda and water mix can penetrate the surface of enamel, and over time, this can weaken it. For this reason, experts don’t recommend using baking soda more than once or twice a week. Even so, compared to the other abrasive agents used in toothpastes, it is extremely mild in terms of the actual scraping it does. It has the lowest rating, 7, out of any substances measured on the Relative Dental Abrasiveness scale. Most general commercial products don’t get much lower than around 35, and some, such as Colgate® 2-in-1 Tartar Control Whitening or Icy Blast/Whitening toothpaste, reach the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recommended limit of 200.
Commercial toothpastes often contain a wide range of different substances, regardless of whether they contain baking soda. Some of these have not been studied thoroughly enough to determine all their potential benefits and side effects, with technical classifications sometimes allowing manufacturers to avoid regulation. People who do not want to take a chance on damaging their health with these chemicals can use a homemade baking soda toothpaste if desired.
At most retailers, a box or other container of baking soda is relatively cheap. When people make their own toothpaste at home using it, the cost per brushing session is usually less than what it would be using a commercial version. Adding other ingredients to make the mixture have a better consistency or taste can increase the expense, however.