Brushing Teeth with Baking Soda: 5 Safety Tips

young blonde woman with very white teeth and pink toothbrush

In the world of health and beauty home remedies, brushing teeth with baking soda is among the most popular. A timeless trick for whitening, giving your teeth a baking soda makeover also thoroughly cleans them in a way similar to a professional brushing session you can get in a dentist’s office.

At the same time, there are also known side effects of brushing teeth with baking soda that you should consider if you plan to use this little trick in a healthy manner. Our guide to using baking soda as a regular teeth whitening treatment will walk you through everything you need to know.

The most important bits of information will be concentrated as tips throughout the text, written in Italic and numbered so you can then revisit the instructions in a speedy manner. As long as you handle the whitening powers of baking soda properly and in moderation, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy its effects safely.

Maintaining your teeth’s good health should be your topmost priority, and the aesthetics should come only second. Luckily for all home remedy users, baking soda can help you accomplish both as long as you take the precautions we will lay out seriously enough. Read on for more details about how to use this humble but powerful home cupboard ingredient.

What Is Baking Soda and What Are Its Effects on Your Teeth?

Baking soda is intended first and foremost as a baking ingredient, but it has many wonderful home uses besides its original purpose. Scientifically, baking soda (the short name for sodium bicarbonate) is a weak alkaline compound with the appearance of white dust (small white crystals, to be more accurate).

In a way, baking soda closely resembles washing soda in appearance, but do you best not to get the two mixed up if you store both kinds of substances in your home. Washing soda can be very dangerous to human health (and even life).

As for brushing teeth with baking soda, this seems to be a stunningly efficient trick that people have discovered even from before the invention of toothpaste per se. A classic beauty trick of the past centuries involved using one’s finger as an instrument and rubbing baking soda on one’s teeth for an instant whitening and beautifying effect.

Primarily used by ladies, who were more invested in their outer appearance, but not limited to them, the baking soda trick was passed down from generation to generation, even after the invention of more sophisticated means of oral hygiene.

How does it work?

Well, the sodium bicarbonate crystals have a gentle exfoliating effect that is more potent than your usual whitening toothpaste. The baking soda crystals polish away the layer of impurities forming a plaque at the surface of your teeth, melting away all stains (or most of their intensity) and making your teeth whiter in the process. Furthermore, because of its intense cleaning properties, baking soda also manages to fight against bad breath.

How to Use Baking Soda for Brushing Your Teeth: 2 Ways

The main benefit of baking soda for your teeth doesn’t stop with its whitening effects. In fact, baking soda removes plaque deposits so efficiently it a most welcome treatment for the health of your entire mouth.

Tip 1: Baking soda has multiple benefits for your entire oral health and hygiene: your teeth will be whitened, the plaque which forms over them will be removed, and you will be protected from both cavities and gum disease. In order to reap all of these benefits, brushing teeth with baking soda should be performed regularly but carefully (not too often, not too concentrated, and not too hard).

There are two main ways in which brushing teeth with baking soda can be done. The first one in intended for a more intense treatment, and the second one is destined for a milder but regular maintenance of the effect. Here’s the scoop on both ways:

a) Intense whitening treatment with baking soda: For a noticeable whitening effect, brushing teeth with baking soda can take the form of an intense monthly treatment. You need to combine the baking soda with another liquid substance that will enhance its effect.

This substance can be either hydrogen peroxide or cider vinegar, depending on the intensity of the effect you want to obtain (cider vinegar is the milder but more natural and healthier option). These are the steps you should follow:

  • First, dip your toothbrush in either hydrogen peroxide or in cider vinegar, shake off the excess.
  • Then dip the wet toothbrush into baking powder crystals (without shaking any of it off this time).
  • Proceed to brush your teeth for at least 2 minutes, gently but firmly, with circular motions.
  • Rinse your mouth (and the toothbrush) with plenty of water in order to remove any traces of the mixture, and make sure you don’t swallow any of the water until your mouth is thoroughly rinsed.
  • Give yourself a break from eating or drinking anything for the next hour or so – your new and shiny teeth may get stained more easily immediately after this intense whitening treatment.

Tip 2: The ritual described above is a rather intense version of brushing teeth with baking soda, and it shouldn’t be done too often. The substances involved (especially if you’re using peroxide) are too strong and if abused they may damage your teeth’s natural protections and even make your teeth more vulnerable to staining than they’d normally be. That’s why you need to do a gentler version of brushing teeth with baking soda for a maintenance effect the rest of the time, and only use the stronger treatment described above once a month.

b) Regular maintenance with baking soda:

Here is how to perform brushing teeth with baking soda in its milder maintenance version: instead of peroxide or vinegar, use either your regular toothpaste, or lemon juice, or crushed strawberries. Strawberry pulp is known for its natural teeth whitening effect (just as lemon juice, as well), so it’s the ideal medium for the baking powder crystals.

Then, after mixing baking soda either with your usual toothpaste or with some crushed strawberries or lemon (one or two will suffice), proceed to follow the same steps as the ones prescribed for the first procedure (the monthly treatment).

Tip 3: If you want to use baking soda for brushing your teeth in combination with your usual toothpaste, don’t pick a whitening toothpaste. The effect may be too much and damage your teeth’s natural protective layers, and there’s really no need to overdo it since the whitening effect of baking soda is more than okay. If you choose this version, you can add a very small quantity of baking soda to your toothpaste every two or three days. Don’t use this home remedy every day, since it can be much too abrasive on the teeth’s enamel.

Tip 4: If instead you choose strawberries or lemon as your medium to carry the whitening power of baking soda, you may need to actually buy toothpaste much less often, unless specifically instructed so by your dentist in order to help alleviate a specific problem this way. Renouncing toothpaste several times a week in favour of baking soda and strawberries is certainly cheaper and almost just as efficient at fighting plaque and bacteria.

diy teeth whitening by brushing teeth with baking soda

Side Effects and Precautions to Brushing Teeth with Baking Soda

So far, so good, but if you plan to incorporate baking soda into your oral hygiene routine on a regular basis, here are some precautions you should take to avoid harm. Brushing teeth with baking soda for too long (or too hard) can have some unpleasant side effects, such as:

  • Harming your teeth’s natural enamel: Baking soda can be very abrasive (hence the whitening effect), but if overused this abrasive quality can become too much, hurting your teeth. The result is that your teeth would then become more vulnerable to cavities, sensitivity to temperature change, to draft, and even more vulnerable to staining foods and drinks.
  • Allowing bacterial infections to take hold of your mouth: This is only a danger which comes with completely renouncing toothpaste in favour of baking soda. Baking soda doesn’t have the same antibacterial properties of classic toothpaste, and thus a complete replacement won’t make for an efficient oral hygiene.
  • Interacting with braces (and permanent retainers) and causing spots: If you happen to wear braces or any other similar metal devices, you shouldn’t think about using baking soda. This may spark a chemical reaction that will end up producing small black stains on your teeth around the places where the braces touch them.

Beyond harming your mouth health, there are a couple of additional things you need to know before starting with baking soda as part of your brushing routine. It is essential to note that when you combine baking soda with either hydrogen peroxide or vinegar, it will create a bubbling effect.

This can be quite dramatic and could get very messy, so you need to be prepared to move quickly. Once you dip your toothbrush in the baking soda, it will begin to fizz.

In addition, because of this reaction, you will not want to dip your vinegar or hydrogen peroxide covered toothbrush in a large bowl or container of baking soda as the moisture will spread in the remaining baking soda. It may be better to just pour a little baking soda on your tooth brush to avoid issues.

Another important note about baking soda and vinegar or lemon that you need to know is these are all acidic. So, if you have any type of sore, such as a canker sore, in your mouth, it could cause burning that might be uncomfortable.

Tip 5: So, to sum up the precautions you need to take when brushing teeth with baking soda, don’t do it every day (two times a week for maintenance and once a month in combination with hydrogen peroxide), and don’t give up toothpaste for good. You will still need its antibacterial properties if you are to maintain a complete oral hygiene, even with the abrasive help of baking soda.

Further Advice on Natural Teeth Whitening

If you’re interested in ways to whiten your teeth at home naturally in addition to baking soda or perhaps as alternatives to it, there are a few other tricks you can use. To get started you can read up on our article on 29 home remedies for teeth whitening and see just how many ingredients usually found in your home can have transformative properties on your teeth’s whiteness.

The most intense effect will still be obtainable only through brushing teeth with baking soda, but the other tips and tricks presented in that list will come in handy as well. As a final note, don’t forget that for a safe use of baking soda, you shouldn’t do it every day (or too hard), and it would also be advisable not to give up toothpaste entirely.

Image sources: 1, 2.