baking-soda-300x225If you spend a lot of time on the Internet, you’ve probably seen dozens of home remedies for every ailment under the sun. One of the most popular ingredients in some of these home remedies is baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate. Used in everything from baking to cleaning, this common chemical compound is found in nearly everyone’s kitchen cupboard. But can it really whiten your teeth?

 

The short answer is yes — but it comes with a caveat. Let’s break it down:

 

Sodium bicarbonate is an alkaline compound that helps neutralize acids, which is one reason it’s so important in baking and as a remedy for heartburn. Our mouths are acidic environments (especially after we eat starchy or sugary foods), and acid wears away at our precious dentin and enamel, which make up the bulk of our teeth. For that reason, baking soda is a wonderful ingredient in products such as toothpaste to reduce acidity and help prevent cavities.

Here comes the caveat: baking soda’s whitening power doesn’t just come from its chemical properties — it also comes from its abrasiveness. The texture acts as a scrub that can help rid your teeth of unsightly stains, but it can also wear down your teeth’s enamel and dentin, which puts your teeth at risk.

This doesn’t mean you can’t use baking soda to help add a little sparkle to your teeth — you just have to do it wisely. Talk to your dentist about incorporating baking soda into your oral hygiene routine, and always brush gently using a soft toothbrush.

And remember, baking soda is not a substitute for toothpaste. Brushing with an ADA-approved toothpaste is an effective way to keep your mouth in tip-top shape. There are even toothpastes that feature a safe amount of baking soda as an ingredient that you can safely use on a daily basis.

 

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