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Baking Soda in Toothpaste: Why it is a great ingredient .... and when it might not be.

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Baking Soda in Toothpaste: Why it is a great ingredient .... and when it might not be.
Commercial western toothpaste is a highly complex formulation that comes in many different combinations. It is hard to believe that a simple ingredient like baking soda in toothpaste could possibly be an effective substitute. But, there are good reasons it works and all of them to do with some key healthy eating facts.

What is baking soda and what are the relevant healthy eating facts?

Baking soda is a mineral salt in fine powder form often occurring naturally in freshwater springs. With its antibacterial properties, very alkaline PH level (PH Level 8 - 9) and a good level of safety for consumption, baking soda is being called a miracle ingredient.

Why Is Baking Soda Great In Toothpaste?

The causes of cavities

Cavities are essentially caused by bacteria that 'eat' the enamel of your teeth resulting in decay, called demineralisation. There are 2 ways these bacteria breed and attack the enamel:
  1. Bacteria breed in the plague that collects on the surface of the enamel of the teeth.
  2. Oral bacteria breed in environments which are acidic. The longer your mouth remains at acidic levels the more damage can occur.

How baking soda helps to fight cavities

In a toothpaste baking soda fulfills a number of roles as:
  1. An effective abrasive
  2. An antibacterial agent
  3. A PH neutraliser
If you are skeptical have a look at the research:
  • The Journal of Clinical Dentistry 2011 published an article confirming toothpaste containing baking soda was more effective at removing plaque from tough to reach places than toothpaste without baking soda.
  • An earlier article in the National Library of Medicine also confirms baking soda eliminates oral bacteria as effectively as most toothpaste.
  • Keeping the mouth at reduced acidity levels of PH 5.5 or higher is the most effective method of reducing demineralisation, according to this article in the European Journal of Oral Sciences. With a PH of 8 - 9, baking soda neutralises acidity levels more effectively than commercial toothpaste. Rebalancing the PH in your mouth also makes your mouth feel cleaner for longer.
  • Finally, this article in the European Archive of Medical Sciences concluded that, overall, the use of toothpaste containing baking soda reduced the appearance of existing enamel erosion more effectively when compared to other toothpaste.
Considering the numerous benefits of baking soda it's no surprise many DIY product enthusiasts promote using baking soda as a toothpowder or in toothpaste. We are even seeing an increasing number of toothpastes in the retail market which include baking soda. But is baking soda great for everyone?

The Baking Soda Toothpaste Debate

Is baking soda too abrasive in toothpaste?

Abrasivity is measured by Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA). The higher the RDA the more abrasive the toothpaste. Plain baking soda has an RDA of 7, whereas common Commercial toothpaste RDA ranges show a range of 44 - 142. Baking soda as toothpaste is considerably less abrasive than most common commercial toothpaste. There are many other factors that influence the abrasion on the enamel of your teeth when you brush. An electric toothbrush is generally more abrasive than a manual toothbrush. How hard and how long you brush will play a role, as well as the firmness of your bristles. Consider these factors, together with your toothpaste, if you have sensitive teeth. Consult your dentist before making a change to your routine if you are unsure.

Is baking soda in toothpaste safe for young children?

Many mothers are specifically turning to baking soda toothpaste for their children because it provides an alternative which is free from toxic chemicals like fluoride, detergents, and triclosan. Baking soda still effectively cleans the teeth and mouth but without exposure to these chemical ingredients. If you have toddlers or young children, be sure to use a damp, soft bristle brush and supervise the amount of toothpaste, together with the brushing time, as you would normally when using a commercial toothpaste.

I have very sensitive teeth or receding gums. Can I use baking soda toothpaste?

Consult your dentist before making changes to your routine, especially if you have concerns with your teeth or gums. If you have sensitive teeth or receding gums it means there are areas of your teeth where your enamel does not cover your whole tooth adequately. Baking soda toothpaste does not contain fluoride. Although there is plenty of debate about the effectiveness of fluoride toothpaste, it does create a small protective layer over your teeth which assists in reducing sensitivity in some cases. Research suggests fluoride in toothpaste might not be effective in the case where dental health is normal, but it likely has its merits in extreme cases. Each case will be unique, consult your dentist if you have concerns.

Our tips for using baking soda in your toothpaste

  1. Most of the abrasive nature in brushing your teeth happens in the first 20 seconds. We tend to brush our teeth like zombies, not thinking about what we are doing. Whether you choose to make the move to baking soda toothpaste or not, try mixing up how you start your teeth brushing routine to avoid creating consistent wear in the same areas.
  2. Baking soda toothpaste has a significantly different taste to normal toothpaste. Normal toothpaste is loaded with sweeteners, whereas baking soda is very salty. It takes some getting used to but, once you have adjusted, you will likely never go back.

The final word

Many natural product enthusiasts use baking soda on its own as a toothpowder. In all honesty, we found using plain baking soda as a toothpowder a bit impractical. Using a toothpowder opposed to a paste mixture meant you regularly end up with more baking soda in the basin than on the toothbrush or in your mouth! Our absolute favourite natural toothpaste recipe combines coconut oil and baking soda, with some peppermint oil to make an all natural, practical, effective and great smelling paste. Check out our Natural Homemade Toothpaste recipe if you are interested in making your own DIY Natural Toothpaste. What are your thoughts on baking soda in toothpaste? Let us know in the comments below.