Does Baking Soda Whiten Teeth?
There are many reported natural remedies claiming to whiten teeth cheaply and ecologically doing the rounds on the internet, but there isn’t usually much basis behind them. But unlike lemon juice and strawberries, baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, does appear in some toothpastes that also help brighten your smile. So, does baking soda whiten your teeth as well as professional teeth whitening, and how should you use it to get the best results?
Using Baking Soda to Whiten Teeth
Unlike most natural remedies, baking soda has been proven to whiten teeth as the abrasive qualities of baking soda and the alkaline content mean it can remove some light stains from the outside of your teeth caused by coffee, tea, red wine, smoking and other naturally staining products. These are known as extrinsic stains and, when mild, can be removed with baking soda. However, tougher stains or intrinsic stains – those that colour the inside of your teeth due to medication, damage or smoking – can’t be removed with the use of baking soda.
Before using baking soda, you should speak to your dentist to ensure that it’s an appropriate treatment for your teeth, as it can damage or cause sensitivity for people who have a thin layer of enamel protecting their teeth.
To use baking soda to whiten your teeth, mix one tablespoon of baking soda with one tablespoon of water to form a thick paste. Rub the paste onto your teeth with your finger or a soft toothbrush, ensuring you cover every tooth and the paste reaches into the gaps between your teeth. Don’t brush your teeth too hard as this may damage the enamel on your teeth, due to the baking soda’s natural abrasive qualities.
Once you have gently covered each of your teeth for up to two minutes, treat the paste like toothpaste and spit it out and rinse your mouth and toothbrush thoroughly. You can do this once a week for a brighter smile without risking damage to your enamel, although if you feel any discomfort you should stop using baking soda immediately and contact your dentist for a check-up.
Some people prefer to enhance the whitening effects of baking soda by replacing the water with hydrogen peroxide; this quickens up the whitening process and is more effective, so you only need to keep the mixture over your teeth for one minute. But people with sensitive teeth should again be wary of the effects strong chemicals can have on their teeth.
Negatives of Baking Soda to Whiten Teeth
Baking soda does whiten some tooth stains, but it’s not effective for everyone, especially intrinsic stains, so if your teeth are badly stained from smoking or other staining products, professional teeth whitening is a better and often safer option as it’s overseen by a qualified dentist. In addition, people with braces, retainers, dentures or other permanent dental fixtures should avoid using baking soda to whiten their teeth as it can weaken the glue used to attach the fixture, causing damage to the structure.
Moreover, baking soda may whiten teeth, but it should never be used as a replacement for toothpaste – very white teeth don’t necessarily mean healthy teeth! Toothpaste contains fluoride which strengthens tooth enamel, helping to prevent tooth decay and cavities from forming, so brushing your teeth twice a day with toothpaste is essential for good oral hygiene. If you want the added whitening benefit of baking soda, you can simply choose a toothpaste that contains sodium bicarbonate.
Other Natural Teeth Whitening Remedies
Many people wonder how they can whiten their teeth naturally, cheaply and quickly, but while natural remedies are often cheaper than the professional alternative, they’re much less effective and by no means a speedy way to whiten your teeth. The most common ways people try to whiten their teeth naturally are with:
- Coconut oil
- Lemon juice
Let’s take a closer look at the effectiveness of each treatment.
Coconut oil has many benefits to people from being a great moisturiser, a healthier alternative to cooking with butter, and even a natural mosquito repellent, but there is no evidence to suggest it’s an effective way of whitening your teeth. If you’ve used coconut oil to cover and whiten your teeth, it won’t cause you any harm, and it’s possible that the small quantity of lauric acid found in coconut oil will remove some harmful bacteria from your mouth, but it won’t whiten your teeth.
There is dental floss available that contains coconut oil which is more environmentally friendly than wax and has a more pleasant taste, but it won’t whiten your teeth.
When we think of removing tough stains, it’s normal to think of lemon juice, vinegar and even cola, as they are very acidic and so can quickly and easily clean household items such as your toilet, oven and even your coins. However, this level of acid is extremely harmful for your teeth, so lemon juice and other acidic liquids are not effective at cleaning or whitening teeth, but rather cause more damage to your enamel.
Although baking soda is mildly effective at whitening teeth as it is mildly abrasive, substances that are too abrasive can do more harm than good for your teeth. Charcoal is very abrasive so brushing your teeth with charcoal powder may give the appearance of whitening your teeth, it’s actually stripping the enamel from your teeth, leaving you with more sensitive teeth which are also more prone to harm.
Professional Teeth Whitening vs Baking Soda
Baking soda is a staple of most kitchens so it’s worth trying as a cheap alternative to whiten your teeth, provided you have the go-ahead from your dentist. However, the most effective way of whitening your teeth is by having them professionally whitened by a registered dentist.
Professional teeth whitening involves covering your teeth with a special gel containing either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, more commonly known as bleach, to lighten the colour of your teeth. If you have very yellow teeth, they can become white again, but it may take slightly longer, depending on which shade you choose; badly stained teeth rarely become brilliant white again after whitening, however, they can become significantly lighter in colour and improve your smile.
When you have your teeth whitened at the dentist, they’ll most likely expose your teeth to a UV light so quicken the whitening process to be achieved in less than an hour, however, you can also choose to whiten your teeth at home, in which case you’ll take home a mould of your teeth to fill with the gel and cover your teeth each night for a few weeks.
If you’re brushing your teeth and they’re still yellow, visit your dentist for advice on which teeth whitening treatment is best for you.
Cost of Professional Teeth Whitening
Since cosmetic dental care is not available on the NHS, you can’t get your teeth whitened for free in the UK unless you’re under 18 and the treatment would have a medical benefit. The cost of teeth whitening in the UK can range from £20 to £1000 depending on the treatment you choose, however, teeth whitening doesn’t always have to be so expensive either.
At Didsbury Dental Practice, we want to ensure everyone has the chance to brighten their smile and regain their confidence, so our teeth whitening treatments start at just £150 and can be done in the practice or at home, depending on which is more convenient for you.
Get Your Teeth Whitened Today!
Didsbury Dental Practice is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so you can always book an appointment at a time that best suits you! Don’t waste any more time feeling conscious of your smile, and book your teeth whitening appointment today!