- Baking soda may whiten your teeth because it is an abrasive cleaner and can help remove plaque or stains.
- If you’re looking to whiten your teeth with baking soda, consider a toothpaste that contains baking soda – this is a safer and more effective way to whiten your teeth, according to dentists.
- That’s because toothpaste contains many other beneficial ingredients to whiten teeth, and using baking soda on its own may be too abrasive and could harm your tooth enamel.
- This article was medically reviewed by John T. Grbic, DMD, professor of dental medicine at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine.
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Baking soda is a common pantry staple that’s often used in baked goods. For some, however, it has also become a self-care product, used to help whiten your teeth.
While it is called baking soda, the chemical substance is sodium bicarbonate. It is a type of salt that is ground into a fine powder. And because it is abrasive – but not overly so – it is sometimes used as an ingredient in toothpaste. Here’s how it can help your teeth.
Does baking soda whiten teeth?
According to the Journal of the American Dental Association, baking soda can serve as a cleaning agent because it is abrasive, or coarse enough to clean your teeth. Research has found that baking soda can help remove built-up plaque and prevent staining, which may whiten your teeth.
Andre Ritter, DDS, chair of the Department of Cariology and Comprehensive Care at NYU College of Dentistry, compares it to cleaning a countertop. The ability to clean any surface, like your teeth, is both a result of the chemical properties of your cleaner and the physical force of scrubbing it with an abrasive object.
However, Ritter says that baking soda alone may be too abrasive, and could damage the enamel – or the protective layer – on your teeth.
“If you pick up Arm and Hammer sodium bicarbonate that you’re supposed to use to clean your pots with, you shouldn’t use that to brush your teeth,” Ritter says. “That is very, very abrasive and it can have serious consequences not just for your teeth but for your gums as well.”
How to whiten your teeth with baking soda
Many kinds of toothpaste contain baking soda, which will do a better job of whitening your teeth. These are special products made for your teeth and are less abrasive than your run-of-the-mill baking soda.
In addition, toothpaste also includes other chemicals that can reduce plaque, prevent cavities, and whiten teeth. For example, fluoride is an important ingredient that helps to strengthen the enamel on your teeth, according to the American Dental Association. The combination of fluoride and baking soda can be very effective for teeth whitening.
However, Ritter says that you shouldn’t plan to use toothpaste with baking soda every day. Instead, it can be used a couple of times each week, to do a little deep cleaning when necessary.
The better strategy is to stick with your daily cleanings so that you can avoid plaque build-up and prevent the need to turn to other products for teeth whitening.
“You can use regular toothpaste and if you brush as recommended, twice a day and you get to all the surfaces of your teeth, you can keep those surfaces clean,” he says. “You don’t need to use anything else if you’re doing a good job.”