Oh, good old sodium bicarbonate, popping up yet again in home remedies. Lately, I’ve seen a lot of people suggesting swapping out specifically formulated toothpaste in favor of kitchen-beauty favorite: baking soda. I like baking soda a lot, I really do. Through baking and funky odors in my fridge, it’s really been there for me. And I don't mean to suggest that baking soda doesn't have a place in beauty products. But I think that home remedies often oversimplify things so much that beneficial ingredients, such as baking soda, can be easily misused — resulting in more harm than good. That’s the case with baking soda toothpaste. Baking soda is great when properly used in a gentle oral hygiene routine — but on its own it’s generally pretty bad toothpaste.
So, baking soda alone for regular use isn't recommendable for keeping teeth at their best. If you want to brush with it once in a while, discuss it with your dentist to understand the best way to do it and whether your gums and teeth can withstand its abrasiveness. Dentists generally recommend using toothpaste with fluoride for strong teeth — but that doesn't mean you can't have baking soda too. As far as toothpastes with baking soda and fluoride, the American Dental Association gives two products its seal of approval:
Tom’s of Maine Cavity Protection Baking Soda Fluoride Toothpaste ($12.37 for two, amazon.com) Ingredients: Active Ingredients: Sodium Monofluorophosphate (0.15% w/v Fluoride Ion) (Anticavity) Inactive Ingredients: Calcium Carbonate, Water, Glycerin, Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda), Carrageenan (Red Seaweed) (Chondrus cripus), Xylitol, Peppermint Oil (Mentha piperita), Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (Derived from coconut oil) Arm & Hammer DentalCare Advance Cleaning ($5.01, amazon.com) Ingredients: Active Ingredients: Contains: Sodium Fluoride (0.24%) (Anticavity Toothpaste) Inactive Ingredients: Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda) (Baking Soda), Water, Glycerin, Sodium Saccharin, PEG 8, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Flavor, Cellulose Gum, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate But if you have sensitive teeth, you might want to consider something that doesn’t contain sodium lauryl sulfate. I couldn't find any toothpaste that had fluoride, baking soda, and was SLS-free; but if you choose a toothpaste that doesn't have baking soda and still want its benefits, you can consult your dentist on the best way to do that.
We’ve recommended Squigle Enamel Saver Toothpaste ($10.15, amazon.com) before because it doesn’t contain sodium lauryl sulfate, which can be particularly problematic for those with canker sores. This one is quite gentle and also contains enamel-strengthening fluoride. Ingredients: 0.24% Sodium Fluoride. 36% Xylitol, Plus Water, Silica, Glycerin, Poloxamer, Cellulose Gum, Flavor, Anatase, Methocel®, Glycyrrhizin, Sodium Hydroxide
Rembrandt Gentle White Mint Toothpaste ($18.56, amazon.com) is also gentle toothpaste — often used by canker sore sufferers — that contains sodium fluoride to strengthen teeth. Ingredients: Active Ingredients: Sodium Fluoride (0.243%) (Anticavity) Inactive Ingredients: Water, Hydrated Silica, Glycerin, Sorbitol, Flavor, Titanium Dioxide, Cellulose Gum, PVP, Sodium Saccharin, Sucralose
Is it OK to use baking soda as toothpaste? No. Baking soda can be great as an abrasive agent in toothpaste or as an alkaline rinse for acidic mouths, but pure baking soda is lacking in many ways in terms of oral care and its abrasiveness can cause more harm than good in the long run. If you’re looking for a specific ingredient or want to solve a particular issue, the best person to consult is your dentist, who can help ensure that you have the healthiest teeth you can.