Brushing Teeth with Baking Soda: Uses and Side Effects
Baking soda is one of those products that seems to be a “miracle worker on a shelf.” People recommend it for so many different things -- but is it really all that good? Should you be brushing your teeth with baking soda?
While it can have some tempting whitening abilities for your teeth, at Supersmile, we believe there are some things you need to think about before you completely toss out your trusty toothpaste.
So, let us share a little secret with you. Overall, we should tell you that brushing with baking soda alone is going to do far more damage to your teeth than it is ever going to do good. As a primary whitening ingredient in toothpaste, it is only going to do so much until it really doesn’t help whiten your teeth anymore. That’s the bad news.
But the good news is that baking soda does provide some distinct benefits, but it’s usually better to be on the lookout for it within a bigger whitening system that does more than just tackle surface stains on your teeth.
So, let’s explore some possibilities for your glowing smile!
Some of the Potential Side Effects To Be Aware of
In addition to enamel erosion (no thanks), there are some other side effects that you need to worry about if you’re considering flying solo with baking soda. But we really must stress that enamel erosion because right now, there are currently no ways to really replace that enamel. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Think about beavers: their teeth have that orange and yellow shade because they have worn all of the enamel off of their teeth and developed a super protective enamel layer. While it’s cute for those little furry rascals, it isn’t a good look on a human.
Another problem is that baking soda doesn’t contain fluoride, which is what strengthens your teeth and helps to prevent cavities. Without that protection, you may be more susceptible to damage.
If you’ve had any braces or orthodontia in your mouth, using baking soda on its own and not part of a toothpaste will actually break down the glues used to keep everything in place, so you absolutely should avoid using it.
When you go to visit your dentist, it is likely that they will be able to tell that you have been using baking soda and will advise you to stop. If the dentist can see it, then you know there’s actual damage to your pearly whites, which is never the end goal.
Advantages of Baking Soda Within Toothpaste
So, let’s skip to the dos instead of the don’ts. There are some distinct advantages to using baking soda as part of your toothpaste -- but in general, they aren’t advantages that you won’t get from other toothpaste ingredients, too.
The first benefit is that plaque and gingivitis can be mitigated by baking soda.
On your teeth, there are bacteria that attach to the surface, and they will eventually cause problems like cavities, eating away at your gums, or gingivitis and gum disease. When you brush with baking soda, the grains tear up that film that forms on our teeth, reducing the bacteria levels.
Baking soda also helps to eliminate the acidic conditions inside your mouth.
There are certain bacteria that thrive in those conditions, so they die off when you brush with baking soda. There are other ingredients that do this as well, but it is a reason why some toothpastes use baking soda as an ingredient.
As mentioned, baking soda does also have some natural whitening properties that help remove surface stains from your teeth.
If the stains on your teeth aren’t deeply ingrained, it may help to keep them stain free. If they are deeply ingrained, however, it won’t do a thing (nada!).
Now, if you’re worried about introducing too much fluoride in your body, baking soda is one of the few fluoride-free options to clean your teeth. While fluoride toxicity and overdose are extremely rare, some medical conditions make the threshold lower.
Finally, the last reason some people use baking soda as toothpaste is simply because it’s readily available and quite cheap, though picking the 99c option off the shelf probably isn’t the best route to happy teeth -- sorry.
Does Baking Soda Actually Clean Teeth?
Toothpaste is used as part of a mouth-healthy routine to clean the bacteria from your teeth and prevent staining. There are many ingredients in toothpaste, including baking soda.
However, it isn’t necessarily a good idea to use only baking soda as your toothpaste because it doesn’t have enough cleaning capabilities on its own. You want the whole package. Now, when it is combined with other ingredients, it works well.
Why? This is simply because as an ingredient, there is so little actual baking soda in your toothpaste that it doesn't cause problems. Most toothpastes formulated with other ingredients prevent baking soda from being harmful to your delicate pearls.
Let’s be honest, baking soda is pretty abrasive, which is why it does work as a good cleaner. It works well to remove plaque and other stains. However, it’s often too abrasive to be safe for solo use in your mouth. It can tear away at your enamel and eventually wear down your gums as well if you’re pouring that baking soda out of that little box all over your toothbrush.
Some people even reported having a gritty texture or a burning in their mouths after they brushed with baking soda.
Overall, baking soda has been approved by the American Dental Association for use in a toothpaste, but there hasn’t been a toothpaste that is solely baking soda that has ever been approved.
Does Baking Soda Whiten Teeth?
It’s a catch-22 here because while baking soda is effective at whitening teeth, it isn’t a good option for most people. There are plenty of other options on the market that are more effective at whitening and have results that are longer-lasting.
As we mentioned, baking soda is abrasive, so it removes the surface stains from your teeth (think wine, coffee, tea, etc.) by essentially sanding them away. Consistently using baking soda will remove stains, but it will harm your pearly whites in the process.
When most people look for a whitening solution for their teeth, they are looking to whiten their teeth a few shades. This doesn’t happen with baking soda. Baking soda will just remove the stains that are on your teeth, making them look somewhat white, but it doesn’t impact the deeper parts of your teeth that can have stains that make your teeth appear dull and blah.
Of course, as we’ve touched the tip of the iceberg already, there are some major disadvantages to using baking soda alone to brush your teeth.
The first is that the taste and texture are simply unappealing to so many people.
It tastes bland and gritty and can even leave a weird aftertaste that you simply won’t be able to get rid of with gums or mints. Some people think the taste is bitter while others call it salty -- either way, it’s no Icy Mint.
Additionally, the texture feels somewhat like you are brushing your glowing pearls with sand, which most people don’t prefer, and it is also extremely difficult to rinse all of the baking soda out of your mouth when you’re done, so you may deal with that lingering texture and crunchiness all day long.
Many people claim that baking soda whitens quite a bit, but it actually doesn’t have an impact on your teeth.
It can be used to spot treat stains and other issues, but as we said before, it really only removes those surface stains. Most of us have stains that are simply too deep for baking soda to really positively impact.
Additionally, it can wear down your irreplaceable enamel, making your teeth look duller -- and that is a problem that is much, much harder to fix.
Finally, since baking soda lacks fluoride, you aren’t getting a good enough clean to prevent dental cavities. Even though you get fluoride from your water, tooth decay is extremely difficult to avoid without it. This is especially true if you eat a lot of hard, crunchy foods.
The health and safety of your glistening pearls matters most. Although baking soda may be an inexpensive option, it is something that you probably shouldn’t blend into your own concoction for your teeth.
Your teeth are a particularly important aspect of your overall health, and luckily, there are many, many other more beneficial options. When you start mixing up your own toothpastes with essential oils or juices, you are really running the risk of doing more damage to your teeth than good.
But, we’re happy to report that if you’re looking for a toothpaste that has whitening properties and also cleans your teeth to levels of sparkling freshness, there are plenty of other options out there (and right here at Supersmile!) for you to consider that don’t come with the baggage of potentially harming that gorgeous smile.
So, opt for baking soda as an ingredient in your toothpaste but not the whole shebang, and your teeth will be sure to thank you!