Baking soda is generally considered a safe and effective dental abrasive and, therefore, poses very little threat in damaging the teeth.
The History of Baking Soda
Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate is a common household ingredient that was originally used for cleaning silver in the early 1920s. Mid-century, more uses for baking soda were being discovered, as it was being used to clean refrigerators, washing clothes and cleaning carpets.
Baking Soda as a Teeth Cleaner and Whitener
One of the newer uses for baking soda is as an active ingredient in abrasive dentifrice, particularly for products claiming to whiten teeth, remove stains and deodorize the mouth. Abrasive dentifrices, as compared to plain dentifrices without finely ground substances such as calcium carbonate or sodium bicarbonate, are said to be able to offer better cleaning ability by removing plaque, debris and stains from the teeth.
The measure of abrasiveness of a dentifrice is the Radioactive Dentin Abrasivity or RDA. And sodium bicarbonate or baking soda, despite having a low level of RDA is able to effectively remove extrinsic stains and clean the teeth. Other abrasive dentifrices include silicon dioxide, magnesium carbonate and dicalcium phosphate dihydrate, which have higher levels of RDA.
Limitations on the Use of Baking Soda
Although baking soda is an effective and safe abrasive dentifrice, it must be noted that it can only work so far as to remove extrinsic or surface stains. More intrinsic and deep stains will not be removed by baking soda products because, as mentioned earlier, it has a low RDA, and thus will only work to remove the newer stains on the outer layer of the enamel.
In order to get the most out of the benefits of baking soda, look for products that combine baking soda with amorphous calcium phosphate or ACP. The ingredient ACP adds to the cleaning and whitening power of the baking soda by filling in surface defects in your enamel.
“The data suggest that baking soda neither improves nor impairs the effect of F dentifrice on reduction of demineralization and enhancement of remineralization of enamel.”
Cury, JA, Effect of dentifrice containing fluoride and/or baking soda on enamel demineralization/remineralization: an in situ study.
Journal of Caries Research, 2001, Volume: 35, No: 2
Hefferren MD, John, and Na Li MD. “Dentifrice Abrasives: Heroes or Villains?” IneedCE.com – Dental Continuing Education Courses for Dental Professionals. Web. 16 Feb. 2011 http://www.ineedce.com/courses/1431/PDF/DentifriceAbrasives.pdf .
Collins MBA MA, Fiona M. “Reflections on Dentifrice Ingredients, Benefits and Recommendations.” IneedCE.com – Dental Continuing Education Courses for Dental Professionals. Web. 16 Feb. 2011. http://www.ineedce.com/courses.aspx?cat=Disease Risk Management.