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What are the Benefits of Using Baking Soda Toothpaste?

By K T Solis
Updated May 21, 2024
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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.

Acid Neutralization

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 Removal

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.

Fresh Breath

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.

Chemical Avoidance

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.

Money Savings

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.

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Discussion Comments

By anon928719 — On Jan 29, 2014

It's not bad, really. Just salty. I just did it and my teeth are a shade whiter. I'm going to go buy some cinnamon oil and coconut oil to make it into a proper paste.

By anon329509 — On Apr 10, 2013

Why use regular toothpaste instead of baking soda toothpaste? It is better for you!

By anon263299 — On Apr 23, 2012

If you don't want to use straight baking soda, but want to forgo using "traditional" toothpastes, try Tom's of Maine. The have a baking soda toothpaste which is combined with other all natural ingredients. Even cooler is that the company lists the reason every ingredient is in the product.

By anon238075 — On Jan 01, 2012

I use only baking soda to brush my teeth, and if I run out, and use my partner's Colgate, it tastes sickeningly sweet and cloying. I buy pure peppermint oil or orange oil to flavor the baking soda sometimes, and yes, I just stick my Sonicare into the box!

I have white teeth, and fresh breath (yes, you do have to rinse well). Try it!

By anon146591 — On Jan 26, 2011

When I'm pregnant, I crave baking soda. Brushing with it keeps me from gagging like commercial toothpaste does. When I first started, my gums bled a lot, but brushing with baking soda cured me of that within a week. I brush longer because I don't have that gag reflex that commercial toothpaste gives me. I have also seen an alternative recipe where you grind up table salt fine and mix it with baking soda.

By anon135734 — On Dec 20, 2010

Can you use baking soda every so often and then use whitening toothpaste in between? Will that harm your teeth? I want white teeth, but I don't want them to fall out.

By anon124133 — On Nov 04, 2010

For those concerned with the taste of baking soda, try adding 1-2 drops of peppermint oil. This will not only mask the 'taste' of baking soda, but help freshen your breath. Also, you can add a drop or two of tea tree oil for added germ and bacteria fighting.

By anon103485 — On Aug 12, 2010

Yes it is possible. I have been using plain baking soda as my only toothpaste (and occasionally as a clarifying hair rinse, as well as many other uses for cleaning and deodorizing) for almost a year now. My teeth are not only whiter, but my cold sensitivity issues, bleeding gums, and a small cut in my gum that never seemed to heal for about three years, are now things of the past.

I can comfortably bite into ice cream now with zero pain and my gums are nice and pink and healthy--despite the fact that I'm a light, but daily smoker.

Now, brushing with plain baking soda will make your breath kind of skanky. To combat this, after brushing with the soda I just make sure to give my teeth another once-over with a well-rinsed toothbrush, because just brushing with plain water will neutralize any remaining soda in my mouth. Then rinse really really well and gargle with plain water. The extreme drying effect of the soda is what causes bad breath since it throws off the ph in your mouth, so rinsing well is important. Do not use mouthwash afterwards; it is unnecessary and the alcohol will dry your mouth out, thus creating more bad breath.

Be warned, brushing with soda will take a bit to get used to. It's definitely an acquired taste, but it'll get better. It may also hurt a little and your gums may bleed quite a bit at first. Don't freak out--this is normal. There is an analgesic as well as a styptic in commercial pastes to stop the bleeding and pain, so that's why it doesn't normally happen. Don't worry, keep using soda and your teeth and gums will toughen up and the sensitivity issues will eventually disappear.

Using plain baking soda as an alternative to toothpaste not only works as well as commercial pastes; it works better--because it doesn't have all those other ingredients in it! Take a look at some of those ingredients and then research them online.

To avoid any biased opinions, go to the MSDS to get the straight facts on these different chemicals and their harmful effects. Then think about whether or not you really want those things anywhere near you, let alone inside your mouth!

It doesn't matter if they are in minute quantities or not; over time, these things will still have an effect!

So how do I know any of this? Well, I've personally done the experiments on my own body by avoiding certain chemicals (SLS and SLES in particular) and have nothing but great results to report. For example, I no longer use commercial shampoo to wash my hair or my daughters' and our hair has gone from dry, fine, and stringy, to thick, lush, and beautiful--even after years of bleaching mine blonde (I now use natural henna and amla powders to color and condition my hair, which is great for use during pregnancy too, since there are no chemicals!).

We also found that avoiding soaps with SLS and switching to castile soap for body wash has cured our youngest daughter's eczema! After seeing the improvements in our skin and hair and researching these chemicals, I'm convinced that many of these products are actually what's causing the cancers and other maladies that did not exist a century ago.

You know what else didn't exist a century ago? That's right-- many of these products. Don't get me started on what's in our food! Lol.

I know it may seem weird or gross to not use commercial products at first, like you won't really get clean. I understand. The first time i heard about "no 'poo" I was thoroughly disgusted, but after reading about it, I realized that "no 'poo" does not mean "no clean", it's just a different method.

I encourage everyone to be open-minded and at least educate yourself on natural remedies so that you can make an informed decision as to what's right for you and your family.

By musicshaman — On Aug 10, 2010

@CopperPipe -- I have heard of homemade baking soda toothpaste but I'm not exactly sure how it works.

I'm not sure if it works as well as store bought toothpastes though, since it doesn't have all the other toothpaste ingredients.

By CopperPipe — On Aug 10, 2010

Is it possible to use regular baking soda as toothpaste? I've read on the internet that some people do that, but I really can't imagine just popping open a box of arm and hammer and brushing with it.

Has anybody done this, or know anything about it?

By zenmaster — On Aug 10, 2010

Sometimes it does take some time to get used to toothpaste with baking soda in it. It can taste weird at first because it's not usually spearmint flavored, like most traditional toothpastes, but rather, it has a kind of salty taste. So if you are just dead set on a mint flavor, baking soda toothpaste might not be the best toothpaste for you.

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