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.
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.
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.
- HealthWorld Online: Periodontal Disease
- eNotAlone.com: Gum Disease : Anti-Plaque Mouthwashes, Baking Soda
- PubMed.gov: The comparative efficacy of stabilized stannous fluoride dentifrice, peroxide/baking soda dentifrice and essential oil mouthrinse for the prevention of gingivitis.
- Dentistry.com: Baking Soda ToothpasteGets Points for Nostalgia, But That's About It
- American Dental Association: Oral care for cancer