Is Baking Soda a Better Alternative Than Toothpaste For Whitening Teeth?

Do you feel shy about letting others see your dull, ? Is having dull teeth knocking your confidence and causing you to avoid social situations or having your photograph taken? Sparkling white teeth look fresh and clean, and they can give people the confidence to smile, laugh, and pose for those all-important selfies; so it’s no wonder so many people want to tackle the problem of less than pretty teeth.

The great news is that anyone who wants to turn the dream of whiter teeth into a reality has plenty of options to take advantage of. These range from full-on (and pricey) dentist administered tooth whitening treatments, and whitening strips which can be bought at a drugstore and used at home, for the most determined – to the cheaper, but generally less efficient option of using a toothpaste which advertises its tooth whitening properties. However, if you are interested in whitening your teeth without spending too much money there’s a very popular DIY alternative you may wish to try – which is to use baking soda to clean your teeth.

Of course, the major question has to be whether or not this is a method which actually works – and in particular, is baking soda better than toothpaste if you are looking for a product to whiten your teeth? Here we look at how to use baking soda to whiten your teeth, how it should, and shouldn’t, be used, the long term benefits it offers people, and if, compared to toothpaste, baking soda can really square up as a credible alternative.

How does baking soda work to whiten teeth?

Baking soda (which is also sometimes called sodium bicarbonate), is gritty and abrasive, and this is the secret to its success. Being grainy means that when mixed into a paste it acts like a scourer, so can be used to wear away the everyday stains our teeth develop after consuming certain items of food and drink, notably coffee tea and red wine, or through habits such as smoking.

This means that using baking soda as toothpaste can improve the general appearance of teeth, and help return them to their natural color better than regular toothpaste can.

It’s also very simple to use, just mix a little with some water (around 50-50 baking soda and water) to make a paste, and brush (gently) for a couple of minutes, although experts advise it is only used once or twice a week rather than as a direct substitute for toothpaste. You should still use your usual toothpaste as well, to keep the bacteria at bay. To be even gentler you can use a clean fingertip to rub the baking soda mix directly onto the stained teeth.

So how about toothpaste?

Toothpaste has been available in one form or another for thousands of years, with some researchers claiming they have evidence that even the ancient Egyptians had their own version – made from vinegar and powdered rock! Of course, modern toothpaste tastes minty and is easily available in a tube or pump-action dispenser, and it is specially designed to clean teeth efficiently, protect gums, fight bacteria and protect tooth enamel.

Most also contain some kind of mild abrasive which is there to tackle the same surface stains as we mentioned earlier, although the effect is often negligible. Toothpaste is a good solution for general mouth hygiene, but less efficient for dealing with particular problems such as stubbornly stained teeth.

What baking soda can’t do

If your teeth have very well established stains it is less likely that baking soda will fix things, but then again neither would toothpaste. In those cases it’s better to seek advice from a dental hygienist.

What to be wary of

Presuming you are brushing correctly and your teeth and gums are healthy then using regular toothpaste shouldn’t hurt anything, while over-enthusiastic brushing with baking soda can be damaging to the enamel and make your teeth sensitive, as well as more vulnerable to cavities.

Care should also be taken if you wear braces or a dental fixture as the soda can make the glue on them go soft.

If looking online for advice on natural ways to whiten your teeth you may come across people suggesting you mix baking soda with either strawberry or lemon juice to boost its whitening prowess. It is best to ignore this suggestion, as acidic fluids like lemon juice are known to leach the calcium from your teeth – and of course, as calcium helps make them strong the result is quite likely to be that your teeth corrode or wear away. If used alone the ascorbic acid in strawberries may well whiten your teeth, but again at the risk of destroying them, so adding in a second abrasive in the form of baking soda is like writing a death sentence for your teeth.

Key points

  •         Baking soda can generally help whiten teeth better than regular toothpaste.
  •         Protect your teeth by not over-doing the baking soda option.
  •         Baking soda cannot replace toothpaste.
  •         As baking soda is caustic take care to brush only the stained areas of your teeth, voiding gums.
  •         Never mix baking soda with anything other than plain water.
  •         Neither baking soda nor toothpaste can achieve the same whitening effect on your teeth           that professional bleaching treatments can.

A few final words

Baking soda can be a very useful tool if used weekly to keep surface stains at bay, but it should always be used alongside a regular fluoride toothpaste so you have better protection for your teeth in the long term. The best you can realistically expect is to get your teeth one or two shades lighter than they are, but this is still better than standard toothpaste can achieve. The compromise would be to choose a toothpaste which contains either a special formula to help lighten the teeth, or one with baking soda already blended into the regular toothpaste.

Photo by aqua.mech