Baking soda will definitely whiten your teeth. Here’s how to use it properly.
CHEAP & EFFECTIVE | There’s no question that brushing with ordinary baking soda will remove surface stains from your teeth and contribute to a pearly white smile. Toothpaste manufacturers know this, which is why some of them have taken a page from 19th- and early 20th-century history books—when paste made from hydrogen peroxide combined with baking soda was a common agent for cleaning and destaining teeth—and included baking soda as an active ingredient in their product.
With baking soda’s proven track record, it’s no wonder people are curious about using it by itself as an inexpensive alternative to bleaching trays to whiten their teeth, though many worry that its abrasive properties will strip the enamel from their teeth.
“I don’t understand the concern,” says my friend Miranda, who has been brushing first with baking soda and then with toothpaste every day for the past year and whose teeth now look dramatically whiter than they used to. Miranda says she can’t see that baking soda has damaged her tooth enamel. “It has certainly not made my teeth or gums more sensitive, which is what happened when I used bleaching trays,” she says, adding that her dentist hasn’t noticed any weakening of her teeth either, so she intends to keep up the practice.
Dentists Weigh In
Three dentists I spoke with had concerns about using baking soda on a daily basis, one citing a study pointing out that the true effects of bleaching agents (primarily hydrogen peroxide-based products) on teeth are not fully understood so brushers should exercise caution when using them.
Two dentists suggested that daily use of baking soda might not be best for everyone but that sporadic use—daily for a week or two every four months, or once or twice every week—would whiten the teeth and probably not cause real damage to tooth enamel. Both said their great-grandparents had used baking soda periodically when brushing, and died with most of their original teeth.—Ruth Rainey