The use of baking soda in oral hygiene productsNews
Posted by: The Probe 18th June 2020
Dental professionals and clinicians have voiced safety and efficiency concerns about dental products that contain baking soda due to its perceived abrasiveness. However, a significant body of evidence has been generated over the years regarding this natural substance and studies confirm that oral health products containing baking soda can be safely used on a long-term basis as part of an effective, preventive oral health routine.
Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate is highly regarded for its naturally cleansing, deodorising and neutralising effects and it’s true, it is frequently referred to as an abrasive. Yet it should be noted that baking soda is classified as an agent of “low abrasiveness”. In fact, its low intrinsic hardness and high solubility actually reduces the relative dentine abrasiveness (RDA) of dental products containing this component. Furthermore, with the pH of 8.3 and its bactericidal properties, baking soda is a friendly cleanser around teeth, dental devices, implant surfaces and soft tissues.
Dental professionals advise patients to brush the teeth twice a day and to floss daily to remove and disrupt debris and dental plaque. A toothpaste containing fluoride is also recommended to help remineralise and strengthen tooth enamel. Yet, toothpastes with the additional component of baking soda have been found to increase plaque removal effectiveness to a significantly greater extent than those without it and, are particularly successful at removing plaque in hard-to reach areas., Baking soda is also compatible with fluoride and ideally suited to penetrate bacterial biofilm, elevate biofilm acid pH and reduce its cariogenic potential. In a study to measure the effects of sodium bicarbonate toothpastes on levels of cariogenic bacteria in human saliva, toothpastes containing baking soda produced a statistically significant reduction of numbers of salivary mutans over a four week period, compared to a placebo toothpaste.
The other advantage of dental products that contain baking soda is that it has an odour neutralising effect. Of course, to avoid bad breath (or halitosis) patients should conduct a consistently thorough oral hygiene routine, but they can gain further confidence by supplementing their oral hygiene routine with sodium bicarbonate. Essentially, halitosis occurs when anaerobic bacteria break down protein-rich substrates from food debris, saliva component and exfoliated cells that are left between the teeth, gums or on the tongue. When microbial putrefaction takes place, amino acids are converted into unpleasant-smelling volatile sulphur compounds or VSCs, which are then expelled in the breath. Baking soda can transform VSCs into a non-volatile state and keep the breath smelling fresh. in fact, it has been reported that toothpastes that contain 20 percent or more baking soda can offer a significant odour-reducing benefits for up to three hours.
Other research has revealed that in high concentrations, sodium bicarbonate is bactericidal against most periodontal pathogens. It is able to neutralise butyric acid and therefore hinder inflammation and when used alongside mechanical debridement, baking soda may aid the healing of periodontal tissues. Certainly, subgingival irrigation with baking soda has been advocated for the non-surgical management of periodontitis.1
Dental aesthetics has become very desirable in recent years and the tooth whitening power of dental products is increasingly important to many patients. The low abrasiveness and efficacy of baking soda makes it an ideal ingredient to add to toothpaste to enable patients to safely whiten the teeth. No reported adverse effects have been detected to date and sodium bicarbonate-based toothpastes have been found to be significantly more effective for removing tooth stains than those that do not contain sodium bicarbonate.  Furthermore, toothpastes that contain baking powder may be more capable of providing a tooth whitening effect than products with higher abrasiveness. 
Baking soda is a natural mineral that is safe and easy to use. Studies confirm its relatively low dentine abrasiveness as well as its bactericidal, neutralising, deodorising and cleansing effects, which can all be used to enhance the oral hygiene routine. This is why baking soda is added to all the toothpastes in the Arm & Hammer™ range, to deliver effective care for a wide range of oral health needs. Arm & Hammer™ Sensitive Pro Repair toothpaste for example, cleans gently but effectively even in the most hard-to-reach areas. In addition, it seals the teeth and protects exposed nerves using patented Liquid Calcium™ technology to offer lasting relief from sensitivity.
Although baking soda may be described as a very humble ingredient, it has the potential to improve oral health and enable your patients to safely enjoy thoroughly clean and bright teeth, healthy gums and fresh breath.
Arm & Hammer™ oral healthcare products are available at Boots, Superdrug, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons throughout the UK.
Author Maxwell O’Neill, professional educator for Waterpik
 Madeswaran S. et al. Sodium bicarbonate: A review and its uses in dentistry. Indian Journal of Dental Research. Nov 2018: 29(5) 672-677. http://www.ijdr.in/article.asp?issn=0970-9290;year=2018;volume=29;issue=5;spage=672;epage=677;aulast=Madeswaran
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