When it comes to natural tooth whitening, baking soda reigns supreme. Just search “how to whiten your teeth naturally.” You’re bound to find different sites advocating the benefits of sodium bicarbonate among the mix of peppermint oils and hydrogen peroxides. This is no surprise. Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is seen as one of the most effective ways to whiten one’s teeth among a slew of prescriptions. And it’s also very versatile as well—you can mix it with either water, hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or coconut oil. But as with all natural methods, there’s always a danger of damaging your teeth. That being said, is brushing with baking soda harmful? And can baking soda damage enamel?
Perhaps it’s a good time to note that sodium bicarbonate, when used sparingly, isn’t something to be worried about. Mixed with the right ingredients—or even on its own—and you can still get the tooth whitening results you want without too much damage to the tooth enamel. Nonetheless, it still has its pros and cons. And sometimes, the cons weigh more heavily if not done correctly.
So is brushing with baking soda harmful? And can baking soda damage enamel? Let’s look closer.
How does baking soda whiten teeth?
Sodium bicarbonate works to remove stains from teeth on two levels. On the first level are the surface stains, which are usually removed by scrubbing off the topmost surface of the tooth enamel. On the other, the alkaline nature of baking soda presumably takes out the rest of the stains by breaking them up.
Sodium bicarbonate has an abrasive nature thanks to the way it is structured. When you brush your teeth with baking soda, you mainly scrub off any of the stain-causing agents before they have a chance to stick to your tooth enamel. If you enjoy coffee, tea, or red wine, brushing your teeth with baking soda can be an excellent way to ensure they don’t stain your teeth in the process.
Aside from its abrasive nature, baking soda’s alkaline composition can also help break down the stains from teeth. When they come into contact with the stain-causing particles, they can loosen the particles and make them easier to brush off.
At a glance, then, baking soda seems like a great cost-efficient alternative to tooth whitening. So why is brushing with baking soda harmful?
Is brushing with baking soda harmful?
Can baking soda damage enamel? Yes, it can. What might be sodium bicarbonate’s strengths can also be a source of weakness. While its abrasive nature is what helps scour out surface stains from teeth, overuse could lead to enamel wear. And when your enamel wears down, it becomes susceptible to bacterial attacks and other problems, like dental injuries.
But that’s not the only problem sodium bicarbonate tooth whitening poses. If paired with another substance of abrasive nature, it could double the damage done to your tooth enamel. And if you’re wearing braces or a retainer, using it could soften the glue and push back your progress.
So if you do decide to jump onto the baking soda train, made sure you take the extra precautions. And always use a fluoride toothpaste after.