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Saturday 13 July 2013

Is Baking Soda a Good Alternative Toothpaste?

Oral hygiene is an important factor to our health that we should be aware and work to maintain. 

For many people who are learning about more natural ways of eating, living and treating our body’s, using the typical toothpaste brands that contains fluoride quickly becomes a non option. For me, I transitioned from toothpaste with fluoride to fluoride free toothpaste. From there I made my way to brushing with baking soda.

What’s wrong with regular toothpaste?

When it comes to regular toothpaste, there are better and safer alternatives. If you read the tube or box your toothpaste comes in, you will notice a warning stating that if you swallow the toothpaste, you should call poison control. The reason being is, toothpaste contains several potentially dangerous chemicals, one of these is called fluoride. Although fluoride has been shown to potentially achieve results in re-strengthening enamel, it is also a toxic substance linked to many health problems. The reason why fluoride is not recommended is because the majority of the time it is used in toothpaste and at the dentist, too much is being applied and therefore it is doing more harm than good. With there being more effective and safer alternatives, using fluoride is not a healthy choice. Using too much fluoride can make the teeth too brittle and therefore more susceptible to cavities and dental fluorosis. Considering that 1 in 3 children in the US now have dental fluorosis, we are clearly using too much fluoride. Another reason is that toothpastes contain ingredients like polyethylene glycols, triclosan, strontium, benzene, and tin, which are all potentially harmful to human health. Toothpaste also contains high levels of glycerin. When there is high levels of glycerin left on our teeth, it takes quite a long time before it wears off and our enamel can properly strengthen again. This leaves teeth susceptible to cavities. Finally, toothpaste does not contain many natural ingredients. This of course is your choice as to whether or not you want to stick to products that are as natural as possible. You can read more about fluoride here.

Is baking soda a good option?

I first came across the idea of using baking soda when doing fluoride research for a short documentary I made called Fluoride: The Hard to Swallow Truth. I made the change over from fluoride free toothpaste to baking soda and was very happy with the results. Then I began hearing about the potential of baking soda being too abrasive for teeth and gums and that it could actually wear away at the enamel. So I began to research this to find out whether this was a good option for me, especially since I was recommending it to other people as well. I found that YES, baking soda is a good option; here’s why.

Understanding abrasivity

When a toothpaste is produced it must get FDA approval before it can be sold to the public. One of the tests that is conducted before its approval is to determine its RDA value (radioactive dentin abrasion or relative dentin abrasivity). To determine the RDA value of toothpaste, the lab tester begins with an extracted human or cow tooth. The tooth is irradiated in a neutron flux, mounted in methylmethacrylate (bone glue), stripped of its enamel, inserted into a brushing-machine, and brushed by ADA standards (reference toothbrush, 150g pressure, 1500 strokes, 4-to-1 water-toothpaste slurry). The radioactivity of the rinsewater is then measured and recorded. For experimental control, the test is repeated with an ADA reference toothpaste made of calcium pryophosphate, with this measurement given a value of 100 to calibrate the relative scale. (2)

The following are the RDA levels for popular toothpastes including baking soda which was also tested.

RDA           Dentifrice brand and variety                                               Source
07 straight baking soda                                                            Church & Dwight
08 Arm & Hammer Tooth Powder                                              Church & Dwight
30 Elmex Sensitive Plus                                                           Elmex
35 Arm & Hammer Dental Care                                                 Church & Dwight
42 Arm & Hammer Advance White Baking Soda Peroxide Church & Dwight
44 Squigle Enamel Saver                                                          Squigle
48 Arm & Hammer Dental Care Sensitive                                   Church & Dwight
49 Arm & Hammer Peroxicare Tartar Control                              Church & Dwight
49 Tom’s of Maine Sensitive (given as 40′s)                                Tom’s
52 Arm & Hammer Peroxicare Regular                                       Church & Dwight
53 Rembrandt Original (RDA)                                                     Rembrandt
54 Arm & Hammer Dental Care PM Bold Mint                             Church & Dwight
57 Tom’s of Maine Children’s, Wintermint (given as mid-50′s) Tom’s
62 Supersmile                                                                          Supersmile
63 Rembrandt Mint (‘Heffernan RDA’)                                          Rembrandt
68 Colgate Regular                                                                   Colgate-Palmolive
70 Colgate Total                                                                       Colgate-Palmolive
70 Arm & Hammer Advance White Sensitive                               Church & Dwight
70 Colgate 2-in-1 Fresh Mint (given as 50-70)                              Colgate-Palmolive
79 Sensodyne                                                                          Colgate-Palmolive
80 AIM                                                                                    Unilever
80 Close-Up                                                                             Unilever
83 Colgate Sensitive Maximum Strength                                     Colgate-Palmolive
91 Aquafresh Sensitive                                                              Colgate-Palmolive
93 Tom’s of Maine Regular (given as high 80′s low 90′s) Squigle    (Tom’s)
94 Rembrandt Plus                                                                    Rembrandt
94 Plus White                                                                           Indiana study
95 Crest Regular (possibly 99)                                                    P&G (P&G)
101 Natural White                                                                   Indiana study
103  Mentadent                                                                         Squigle
103  Arm & Hammer Sensation                                                   Church & Dwight
104 Sensodyne Extra Whitening                                                 Colgate-Palmolive
106 Colgate Platinum                                                                 Indiana study
106 Arm & Hammer Advance White Paste                                   Church & Dwight
107 Crest Sensitivity Protection                                                   Colgate-Palmolive
110 Colgate Herbal                                                                     Colgate-Palmolive
110 Amway Glister (given as upper bound)                                   Patent US06174515
113 Aquafresh Whitening                                                            Indiana study
117 Arm & Hammer Advance White Gel                                      Church & Dwight
117 Arm & Hammer Sensation Tartar Control                               Church & Dwight
120 Close-Up with Baking Soda (canadian)                                  Unilever
124 Colgate Whitening                                                               Indiana study
130 Crest Extra Whitening                                                          Indiana study
133 Ultra brite (or 120-140)                                                          Indiana study (or Colgate-Palmolive)
144 Crest MultiCare Whitening                                                    P&G
145 Ultra brite Advanced Whitening Formula                                 P&G
145 Colgate Baking Sode & Peroxide Whitening (given as 135-145) Colgate-Palmolive
150 Pepsodent (given as upper bound)                                         Unilever
165 Colgate Tartar Control (given as 155-165)                               Colgate-Palmolive
168 Arm & Hammer Dental Care PM Fresh Mint                           Church & Dwight
200 Colgate 2-in-1 Tartar Control/Whitening or Icy Blast/Whitening (given as 190-200) Colgate-Palmolive
200 recommended limit      FDA
250 recommended limit      ADA

As we observe in the chart, baking soda, when used correctly, is actually less abrasive than all toothpastes. Given the unnatural nature of toothpaste and the efficacy of baking soda when it comes to keeping teeth clean and the mouth at a good Ph level, using baking soda to brush your teeth is actually more favorable than natural toothpastes.

How to brush with baking soda

Brushing with baking soda is quite simple. First start with a fresh toothbrush that does not contain any of the left over residues from your toothpaste.
1. Take a pinch of baking soda and put it into a small glass or small bowl.
2. Add a small amount of pure water (ideally not tap water) to the bowl and mix it into the baking soda. The solution should be slightly runny as you don’t want too many of the granules present. Dip your toothbrush in to get some of the solution on the brush.
3. Brush starting with your molars and then moving to the facings and backs of your teeth.
4. (optional) Once done, you can add some more water to the glass or bowl and swish it around your mouth. This will help keep your mouth alkaline.
5. Rinse out your mouth with pure water as you normally would after brushing.

Try this out for yourself and share your thoughts on how this works for you. Remember, if you have learned that baking soda is too abrasive, it may misguided information or people may have been incorrectly using baking soda to brush. As always, feel it out for yourself and make adjustments accordingly.


Joe Martino

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