“Is baking soda safe to brush with?“
“Will I damage my teeth if I brush with baking soda?“
These are just a couple of the many ‘baking soda safety’ questions that we commonly receive from readers like you.
There are experts who claim that regularly brushing with baking soda can cause wear on tooth enamel and gum tissue.
In this article, we’ll discuss the deeper issue behind the ‘damage’ that’s being blamed on baking soda. We’ll also explore some of the true risks and benefits of brushing with it.
Is baking soda really to blame?
If we remember just this one thing while brushing, we’ll be much more inclined to treat our teeth more carefully:
Our teeth are living gems.
Yep, our tooth structure is like a crystal. But, unlike rubies and diamonds, these ‘tooth crystals’ are alive!
The bottom line is that most of us brush our teeth unconsciously. We call it ‘zombie brushing’.
Let’s face it, if we brush our teeth like we’re scrubbing a grout line in our bathroom, then yes, using baking soda to brush our teeth could potentially cause some real problems.
One way to tell whether you brush unconsciously is to note how you hold your toothbrush.
If you hold your toothbrush with a closed fist, you’re most likely scrubbing a grout line.
Instead, holding your toothbrush like we show in this video will offer a much gentler approach to caring for our oral hygiene.
So, before we dive any further into the details of whether or not it’s safe to regularly brush with baking soda, let’s firmly state that how we brush our teeth is definitely more important than what we brush with.
We’ve written extensively on the importance of this ‘how vs. what’ debate in previous articles that details the pros and cons of brushing with electric or manual toothbrushes.
Now that we have a firm grasp of the importance of brushing consciously, let’s explore the risks and benefits of using baking soda to brush our teeth.
Here are the potential downsides to using baking soda as a tooth powder.
Risk 1: Abrasivity
Is baking soda too abrasive?
To answer this, let’s compare baking soda to some abrasives that are commonly included in oral hygiene products.
In the world of oral hygiene products, there’s a scale called ‘Relative Dentin Abrasivity’ (or RDA). It ranks product
Baking soda is only a 7 on the RDA scale. (1) So, at first glance, it seems that when used consciously, baking soda isn’t too abrasive.
But let’s look a bit closer to make sure…
Pay attention if you have receding gums
As you know, the enamel is the outer portion of each tooth. Under the enamel is the dentin, then the tooth pulp.
However, if we have receding gums, it’s very possible that the portion of tooth around our gum line may no longer be enamel. As the gum recession progresses, the softer tooth tissue called ‘cementum’ may become exposed around the gum line.
As you can see from this image, the enamel only extends so far down the sides of our teeth. So once the gum line has receded, this exposes the cementum.
This explains why it’s more common for adults to get cavities along the gum line than on the chewing surfaces of their teeth. The receding gums expose the cementum, which is softer than the enamel that covers the crown of the tooth (therefore, it’s more prone to decay as well as structural damage from brushing too hard and using products that are too abrasive).
However, overall, when used consciously, baking soda is ok to use in a tooth powder.
“Risk” 2: What about the aluminum in baking soda?
This is a common cultural myth. Baking soda does not contain aluminum.
Some product manufacturers have caused confusion by listing ‘aluminum-free baking soda’ on their ingredient list, but baking soda doesn’t have any aluminum in it.
The confusion comes from the fact that some baking powders do contain aluminum derivatives. So, baking soda got thrown under the bus in this case of mistaken identity.
Again, baking soda does not contain aluminum. So this is a non-issue.
Risk 3: Daily use of baking soda by itself may be too far…
There are experts in the field who suggest that brushing with baking soda alone is too ‘rough’ and compromises the healthy biofilm that our teeth need in order to be healthy.
The ‘pellicle’ is a naturally occurring layer of health-giving bacteria
Incidentally, that’s why we chose to include baking soda as a minor ingredient in OraWellness Shine, our remineralizing tooth whitening powder. The formulation includes just enough to help, but without going overboard (more is not always better; balance is key).
Now that we’ve unpacked some of the risks of brushing with baking soda, let’s explore some of the benefits.
Benefit 1: Supports a healthier oral pH
Our mouth pH plays a big role in determining which populations of bacteria flourish there. It’s generally recognized that the lower (more acidic) the pH in the mouth, the greater the risk of tooth decay. (Enamel demineralization occurs at pH 5.5 and lower.)
You see, the bacteria that flourish at a pH of 5.5 will find a pH of 6.5 or 7.0 downright inhospitable. To successfully manage our oral microbiome, our job is to help maintain a mouth pH that supports the probiotic bacteria populations that help us to live healthy, vital lives.
Baking soda’s pH of 8.3 helps support a more alkaline oral pH. It gently nudges the environment in our mouths to a healthier place.
For more information on pH’s role in our oral health, check out our article, “Tracking your saliva pH“. This article contains a free OraWellness saliva tracking log that you can download to help you along your path.
Benefit 2: Baking soda lowers thug bug count
Plenty of research shows that baking soda can really help lower the populations of thug bugs in the mouth, so it’s an effective support tool to reduce periodontal pathogens. (2)
This makes sense if you stop and think about it.
Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, so it’s a salt. All salts are naturally antimicrobial.
Benefit 3: Helps to gently remove extrinsic stains from teeth
A couple of years ago we took a deep dive into researching commercial teeth whitening.
You can read the solutions we gleaned from that research by downloading our FREE resource guide, How to Naturally Whiten Your Teeth (without destroying your enamel).
Do the benefits outweigh the risks?
Given the above information, we believe that baking soda can offer support in helping us navigate to optimal oral health provided that we brush consciously and avoid ‘zombie brushing’ our teeth.
Baking soda definitely provides plenty of ‘grit’ to help remove plaque. However, to avoid causing more harm than good, we must be vigilant and mindful while brushing with baking soda.
You see, most of the grit from baking soda (and toothpaste, for that matter) is diluted with saliva and ‘used up’ within the first 20 seconds of brushing.
So for example, if out of habit you always start on the upper left side when brushing, the teeth and surrounding gum tissue in that area are going to get more than their fair share of abrasive action, and they may weaken over time.
How to avoid overworking one spot in your mouth
To help mitigate the risk of this habitual ‘starting to brush in the same spot every time’, we share a simple strategy in our free video tutorial course, the 5 Steps to a Healthy Mouth.
Here’s the simple strategy…
Presuming you brush twice a day, start on one side of your mouth in the morning and the other side at night. An easy way to remember this is ‘at night, start on the right’.
So, each morning start brushing on the left side of your mouth and each night, on the right.
In this way, we reduce the risk of over brushing one area and we spread out the fresh toothpaste/tooth powder to various areas around the mouth.
How to use baking soda in a homemade tooth powder
We are so grateful for the resurgence of the DIY (do-it-yourself) movement. From making deodorant to raising backyard chickens, we’re all waking up to the benefits of doing or making things ourselves.
If you want to try your hand at making a
You may also consider using
Also, we invite you to read our article, “How to make a DIY
If you like the idea of using a tooth powder to remineralize your teeth but you don’t want to try making it yourself, you may want to check out OraWellness Shine, our remineralizing tooth whitening powder. Here are just a couple of the hundreds of testimonials we’ve received since launching Shine:
- “At my last dental visit, my dentist said, ‘Whatever you are doing, just keep it up!'” – Lisa H.
- “After using Shine for several weeks my teeth feel noticeably less sensitive. My husband won’t always “buy in” to natural remedies & cures, and he outright did not believe you could remineralize your teeth. I bought Shine for myself and use it every day. Although skeptical, he saw me using it and he decided to try it. During his next visit to the dentist, they could not believe how much his teeth had improved! His hygienist & dentist both asked him what he had been doing. They thought he gave up soda and candy (which unfortunately he hasn’t lol), but I am so thankful he gave Shine a try! We may never have a perfect diet but using Shine is a simple and effective step toward a healthier life! Thank you!”
You can learn more about how OraWellness Shine helps remineralize and gently whiten teeth here.
How about you? Do you use baking soda in your toothpaste/tooth powder? If so, why? If not, why not?
Sharing your thoughts in the comments section really helps us all to learn from one another. Together we can accomplish so much good.
Helpful, Related Resources:
How to brush your teeth to stop tooth decay [video tutorial]
4 reasons why brushing is so important [article]
How to Brush Your Teeth to Reduce Gum Disease (Bass 2.0) [video tutorial]
Electric Manual Brushes… Which is Better?
Tooth whitening without abrasive toothpaste – Independent lab test results [article]
Tracking Your Saliva pH – part 2 of ‘How to Know You Are Heading in the Right Direction [article]
5 Steps to a Healthy Mouth [free video tutorial series]
How to Naturally Whiten Your Teeth [free ebook]
What Causes Receding Gums and How to Stop it [article]
How to Stop Receding Gums [article]
How to help your family be free from tooth decay [[expert interview]]
Can some plaques actually help our teeth stay healthy?
How teeth decay – part 2 of ‘How to stop cavities and reverse tooth decay [article]
The ‘Perfect Storm’ for Decay [article]
How to Balance Your ‘Oral Flora’ [article]
How to Stop Tooth Decay [article]
Is Xylitol Safe to Brush with? [article]
How to make a DIY
OraWellness Shine [product solution]
How Shine Works [informational video]
OraWellness HealThy Mouth Blend [product solution]
OraWellness MCHA (