A beautiful smile filled with white and bright teeth is the desire of many individuals. There are a lot of commercially-made and professional-grade solutions available for whitening teeth, however, they are usually expensive and time-consuming and difficult to use.
On the other hand, baking soda is a very affordable and easy to use treatment that effectively whitens and brightens dull and discolored teeth caused by stains from eating and drinking certain foods as well as smoking.
What is Baking Soda?
Baking soda, which is scientifically known as sodium bicarbonate, is a crystal-like powdered substance that is mildly abrasive and has an alkaline balance. These qualities make it very effective for removing superficial stains in tooth enamel as well as minor plaque buildup on the teeth.
Developed during the 1800’s, baking soda has many applications in everyday life, which include cleaning, removing odors from the air and various substances, baking and even as a fire extinguisher.
Baking soda as an oral care product has been granted a seal of approval from the American Dental Association (ADA) and is a common ingredient added to fluoride toothpaste formulations aimed at whitening and brightening the teeth while also fighting cavities.
Why use Baking Soda for Teeth Whitening?
Baking soda is a useful and effective product for whitening teeth for two major reasons.
- Its effectiveness for improving the appearance of the teeth.
Baking soda removes stains from the teeth and polishes them for a smoother and whiter appearance.
- Combining baking soda with water causes free radicals to be released, which breaks down and bonds with the molecules that cause stains on the teeth.
- When these molecules are detached from the teeth, it is easy to remove them with a toothbrush.
- Baking soda is cheaper than other teeth whitening alternatives.
Baking soda is an extremely low cost product and is easy to obtain and use for whitening the teeth. It is also a cheaper option when compared to other teeth whitening solutions. In fact, there are over one hundred teeth-brushing uses in each regular-sized box of baking soda.
Baking soda also has multiple additional uses in the household, which makes it even more of a bargain.
Note: Despite its effectiveness for improving teeth’s appearance, it is important to note that baking soda will not transform teeth into a brilliant shade of white. It is also not as effective at removing stains that are very old and deeply set into teeth as more powerful whitening treatments provided by a dentist or commercial-strength teeth whitening system.
The following are simple and effective methods for using baking soda to whiten teeth.
- Use Plain Baking Soda
Used on its own to brush the teeth, plain baking soda is an effective treatment for whitening and removing plaque buildup.
- To ensure that the powder sticks properly, soak a toothbrush to full saturation in plain water before dipping the bristles into some baking soda.
The combination of the water from the wet bristles and the baking soda should leave the toothbrush coated with what resembles a paste.
- Brush the teeth for approximately two minutes before removing all traces of residue from the mouth by rinsing with plain water.
Warning: Initially, a small amount of burning or tingling is normal, however if the sensation continues or becomes very uncomfortable, stop brushing and use plain water to rinse the mouth out completely.
- Baking Soda and Lemon Juice
The citric acid in lemon juice, which is a natural tooth bleaching agent, combined with the alkaline properties of baking soda make the mixture an effective but gentle teeth whitening solution.
- Combine enough fresh lemon juice with a teaspoon of baking soda. As the acid in the lemon juice reacts with the baking soda it will cause the mixture to fizz up.
- When the fizzing action stops, mix the solution until a smooth and thick paste forms. Add extra baking soda if necessary to get the right consistency.
- Use a paper towel to dry the teeth completely and remove any saliva from their surfaces.
- Use a toothbrush to coat the teeth completely in the lemon juice and baking soda paste and let it sit for approximately one minute. For badly stained teeth allow the paste to sit for a maximum of two minutes, but no longer to avoid doing permanent damage to tooth enamel.
- When the time is up, use plain water to rinse all traces of paste residue from the mouth before brushing the teeth again with regular toothpaste.
Warning: Because citric acid can be harsh, damaging and corrosive to tooth enamel, many dental health professionals do not recommend using this combination for whitening teeth.
- Baking Soda, Strawberries and Salt
The high vitamin C and malic acid enzyme content in strawberries offers teeth whitening and plaque removal benefits when combined with baking soda. These properties make strawberries effective at removing the stains on the surface of tooth enamel that make teeth appear yellow and discolored.
While it is optional, adding a small amount of sea salt helps to remove buildup from the teeth by acting as an abrasive agent.
- Combine half a teaspoon of baking soda, a pinch of sea salt (optional) and the pulp of between one and three mashed strawberries.
- Use a piece of paper towel to dry the teeth, removing any traces of saliva from them before using a toothbrush to completely coat teeth with the strawberry mixture.
- Allow the mixture to act on the teeth for a minimum of five minutes before rinsing the mouth thoroughly with water and brushing the teeth again with regular toothpaste.
For best results repeat the treatment every night.
- Baking Soda and Toothpaste
Baking soda combined with regular toothpaste offers the benefits using a fluoride-based tooth cleaner and the teeth-whitening properties of baking soda.
- Brush teeth for approximately two minutes with a small amount of baking soda sprinkled on top of the normal amount of toothpaste already applied to the toothbrush.
- Rinse the mouth thoroughly to remove all traces of residue.
- In a container, make a paste by mixing a small amount of baking soda, toothpaste and water together.
- Brush the teeth with the paste for approximately two minutes before rinsing the mouth thoroughly with water or an oral wash.
- Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide
Another household product that is effective for whitening teeth when combined with baking soda is hydrogen peroxide used in an oral-safe three percent solution. It is available in every supermarket and pharmacy, and typically comes packaged in an opaque brown bottle to preserve the hydrogen peroxide and prevent it from having a reaction due to exposure to light.
Along with whitening teeth, when diluted with an equal part of water, hydrogen peroxide also makes an excellent mouthwash that helps to kill bacteria.
- Brush teeth for approximately two minutes with a toothbrush saturated with hydrogen peroxide and dipped into baking soda.
- To get rid of residue from the mixture, rinse the mouth thoroughly with an oral wash or plain water.
- Brush the teeth again with regular toothpaste.
- Combine a teaspoon of baking soda with enough hydrogen peroxide to make a paste and use it to brush the teeth before rinsing with a mouth rinse or water.
- Brush the teeth again with regular toothpaste.
- Baking Soda and Vinegar
A mixture of baking soda and vinegar helps to whiten and brighten teeth with regular use.
- In a container with a small amount of water, add several drops of white vinegar, a pinch of salt and a spoonful of baking soda, then stir until the crystals dissolve.
- Saturate the toothbrush in the solution and gently brush the teeth for approximately two minutes.
- Brush the teeth with regular toothpaste for another two minutes, after first rinsing the toothbrush completely.
Benefits: Is Baking Soda Good For The Teeth?
Using baking soda for oral care offers several benefits in addition to getting a brighter smile, which include the following:
- Teeth Whitening and Brightening – Baking soda removes stains on the outside of the teeth (dentine and enamel), caused by consuming substances such as alcohol, nicotine, drinks (for example coffee, tea and wine) and foods (dark berries).
- The material that teeth is made of (enamel) is much harder than baking soda crystals. This fact combined with baking soda’s abrasive qualities help to scrub stains from the teeth mechanically, which causes a temporary brightening and whitening effect.
- Plaque Removal and Gum Disease Prevention – Baking soda removes plaque from the teeth and around the gums that can lead to the oral disease known as gingivitis, which makes gums sore and causes them to bleed, swell and become infected.
- Affordability – Compared with other teeth whitening products and methods, baking soda is extremely affordable and simple to use.
- Baking soda is available in any supermarket or drug store at minimal cost for a very large container.
- Bad Breath Prevention – Baking soda helps to keep acid levels in the mouth balanced while also removing debris left on the teeth from eating acid forming foods. Both of these actions help to fight the effects that lead to bad breath.
- Make a mouth rinse by mixing half a teaspoon of baking soda into a glass of water and stirring until it is completely dissolved. Rinse the mouth with the mixture once or twice a day.
- Mouth Ulcer Treatment – Using baking soda can speed up the healing rate of moth ulcers and reduce the irritation and pain associated with the condition.
- Combine baking soda with water and use it as a daily oral rinse to treat and soothe mouth ulcers.
Disadvantages: Is Baking Soda Bad for The Teeth?
Baking soda is not bad for teeth if it is used properly and short-term. However, regular and ongoing use of baking soda to whiten teeth comes with several major disadvantages and negative side effects, which include the following:
- Weaker Tooth Enamel – The abrasive action of baking soda makes tooth enamel gradually weaker with regular use.
- Does Not Kill Bacteria – Baking soda has no anti-bacterial properties, so on its own it does not prevent bad breath and other issues caused by bacteria in the mouth.
- Does Not Make Teeth Healthier – Studies done by the American Dental Association prove that baking soda on its own does not work to make teeth healthier or protect and strengthen them against plaque and tooth decay.
- Makes Teeth Cavity Prone – Prolonged use of baking soda makes teeth prone to cavities by increasing their sensitivity and damaging the enamel permanently and irreversibly.
- Dissolves Dental Glue – Baking soda damages and dissolves the dental glue that is used to bond permanent retainers and braces to teeth.
Precautions and Risks
The following are precautions are risks to keep in mind while using baking soda to whiten the teeth.
- Before brushing the teeth, make sure to saturate the toothbrush with water and rinse the mouth with water thoroughly.
- To mask the taste of baking soda, always begin each treatment by rinsing the mouth out with water.
- Prevent gum irritation by brushing teeth’s biting surfaces until baking soda gets creamy (after it mixes with saliva) or for approximately fifteen seconds.
- Limit brushing with baking soda to two minutes or less at a time.
- Bleeding gums should be corrected before starting or continuing to brush with baking soda.
- Individuals with permanent retainers or braces bonded with orthodontic glue should avoid using baking soda to brush the teeth.
- Always consult with a dental professional before adding baking soda to a dental hygiene routine.
- For maximum potency use a fresh batch of baking soda every few weeks, and use a separate container to prepare it in small amounts to prevent it from clumping.
- Reduce brushing with baking soda to a maximum of once or twice weekly after two weeks of using it on alternative days to reduce potential harm to tooth enamel.
- Brushing on a regular basis with fluoride toothpaste is the best way to prevent plaque buildup, gum disease and bad breath while fighting cavities, which brushing with baking soda alone cannot do.
- Baking soda damages gums and tooth enamel if not used properly.
- Baking soda does not treat existing cavities, so if there is a dark area on a tooth that does not improve with regular use of baking soda, it may be the beginnings of tooth decay.
- Consult with a dentist for safe alternative treatments to baking soda for teeth whitening.