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Baking Soda & Gum Disease

by
author image Virginia Franco
Based in Charlotte, N.C., Virginia Franco has more than 15 years experience freelance writing. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including the education magazine "My School Rocks" and Work.com. Franco has a master's degree in social work with an emphasis in health care from the University of Maryland and a journalism degree from the University of Richmond.
Baking Soda & Gum Disease
White toothpaste being squeezed onto a toothbrush Photo Credit Voyagerix/iStock/Getty Images

During an early part of the 20th century, baking soda was an integral part of teeth cleaning regimen for many as a way to ward off tooth and gum infections. Today, many toothpaste manufacturers market baking soda toothpastes. Unfortunately, evidence suggests baking soda has no therapeutic value as a gum disease-fighting agent.

Gum Diseases

For years the dental community promoted the notion that baking soda could help fight periodontal disease and gingivitis by reducing mouth acidity while cleaning. Periodontal disease occurs when bacterial laden plaque infect the gums and eventually cause gums to recede. According to HealthWorld Online, periodontal disease affects about 20 percent of adults in the United States today.

Gingivitis usually precedes periodontal disease, and occurs when gums become red, tender and swollen and require intense cleaning efforts.

Baking Soda & Peroxide

Toothpaste manufacturers often mix peroxide with baking soda, and market the notion that baking soda will cleanse while peroxide will whiten. While these two ingredients will fizz when combined, Dentistry.com notes this bubbling activity does not have any therapeutic value.

The Evidence

Dentists in the U.S. promoted the Keyes Technique during the late 1970s and early 1980s, and advised patients to brush their teeth with a combination of salt, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. A late 1980s study showed that while the baking soda mixture did a good job of maintaining oral health it was no more effective than standard toothpaste treatments. A second study conducted by the Indiana University Oral Health Research Institute in 1997 went further, and showed that baking soda did not work as well as fluoride toothpastes to help control plaque, gingivitis and gingivitis bleeding

Nostalgic Value & Sentiment

Many people appear to simply prefer baking soda as a teeth and gum cleaning agent. According to Dentistry.com’s interview with San Pablo, CA dentist William van Dyk, this is because baking soda makes teeth feel good while remaining a “product of nostalgia.” American Dental Association Scientific Affairs Senior Director Ken Burrell, D.D.S., goes further and states that people purchase baking soda strictly for sentimental reasons.

Cancer Treatment Benefits

Baking soda may have some therapeutic oral health benefit for patients going through cancer treatment. According to the American Dental Association, patients who undergo cancer treatment must often manage painful oral side effects that injure the teeth, gums and salivary glands. The ADA recommends cancer patients rinse their mouth out several times daily with a mixture made from one-quarter teaspoon of baking soda, a one-eighth teaspoon of salt, and one cup of warm water.

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