Items of a multi-purpose nature are always of great benefit. Anytime you can get more mileage out of something the better off you’ll be, because you’ll be prepared for a greater variety of problems while also saving space.
You’ll also be saving money. One of the best multi-purpose substances you can keep in your survival stash is baking soda.
Baking soda is of course useful for baking, acting as a leavening agent, but it has innumerable other uses around the house and the shop. One of the best uses for baking soda is in an oral care routine.
Baking soda is a component of many toothpastes already, and it stands to reason you could use baking soda by itself for taking care of your teeth and gums. Is this true?
Yes, it is. Although baking soda is not a perfect option for long-term oral care it is completely viable and will definitely work in a pinch if you are out of toothpaste or if conventional toothpaste aren’t a good option for you for whatever reason.
In the rest of this article we will provide you with an overview of what baking soda can do to keep your teeth healthy.
What is Baking Soda?
Baking soda is just sodium bicarbonate, a chemical compound in the salt family. It appears as a solid white crystalline powder.
Baking soda is often sold under the name baking soda (throughout the U.S.), but in various places around the world may be referred to as bicarbonate of soda, bread soda or cooking soda.
As one would expect from most salts the taste is, well, salty and alkaline.
Baking soda is used in all sorts of situations, most commonly in civilian life as a leavening ingredient for baking, as a mild scouring or cleaning agent and as a component in both fire extinguishers and fireworks. Pretty versatile for a humble compound, huh?
This versatility extends into the medical and hygiene realm also, and as we will learn today it can be an effective standalone product for your oral care routine.
Baking Soda for Oral Health
Baking soda has many properties to commend it for oral hygiene, namely that it functions as a mechanical cleanser and also possesses characteristics that make it antagonistic to harmful bacteria.
It also acts as an antiseptic that can help prevent infections from cuts, sores or ulcers in the mouth.
Compared to toothpaste baking soda is a simple and remarkably pure ingredient, with no added fluoride or other components of a dubious nature.
This can make it great as a replacement toothpaste when toothpaste is unavailable or as a specialized option for oral care among people who have reservations about the state of modern toothpastes
Baking soda can be utilized both as a homemade paste, by simply mixing with a small quantity of water, or diluted further to form a rinse or irrigation agent. It must be noted, however, that baking soda is not a miracle cure for oral care.
But then again, nothing is, and you’ll find that baking soda has strengths and flaws that you will need to account for in order to give your teeth and gums the care they deserve.
We will discuss the pros and cons of baking soda in the section below.
Pros of Baking Soda for Oral Care
Baking soda is a mild abrasive, and though most dentists agree that it is gentle enough to be safe for long-term use on your teeth (as it will not seriously degrade your enamel) it is abrasive enough to remove surface level stains.
The reactive properties of baking soda also help to gently lift off discoloration from hard to reach places on your teeth.
Though a bright and shiny smile is probably the last thing on your mind in the middle of a survival situation it is good to know that baking soda can help maintain those pearly whites and that winning smile all the time.
Don’t discount that, because it could come in handy for negotiations!
Baking soda has properties that allow it to disrupt the formation of biofilm, which is that nasty carpet of plaque that begins to form on your teeth over time.
This scuzzy, disgusting looking carpet is actually a colony of bacteria living and swarming among the detritus of their pooping and peeing after feasting on sugars and other food debris left behind from eating.
Aside from being nauseating to think about and unpleasant to look at, these biofilms can cause major problems.
Wherever biofilm forms cavities, gingivitis and other oral maladies and diseases are not far behind.
Brushing alone, even with toothpaste, is rarely enough to get rid of these troublesome infestations.
A paste consisting purely of baking soda with a little water can turn the tide against these colonies though, especially when they are young.
It accomplishes this by killing bacteria and by mechanically roughing up the biofilm making it increasingly vulnerable to repeated treatments, repeated brushings with baking soda.
Baking soda is remarkably inexpensive, compared even to the cheapest toothpaste. Even at major grocery stores and retailers bulk boxes of baking soda can be had for around 40 cents an ounce.
You need very, very little baking soda to effectively brush your teeth or rinse your mouth and that means even a small box can go a very long way.
This is an easy way to get prepared for a long haul survival situation when you won’t be able to replace toothpaste after it runs out, or to save some money by foregoing toothpaste entirely and using baking soda exclusively for your oral care routine.
Raises Mouth pH
Baking soda is basic, and I don’t mean commonplace.
Baking soda and water will interact with the environment of your mouth to raise the pH, lowering acidity overall.
Since many varieties of bacteria and other nasty grizzlies depend on an acidic environment to exist this starts to make your mouth less and less suitable for their survival over time.
You definitely don’t want hostile bacteria in your mouth and around your teeth so this can only be a good thing.
For oral care, baking soda brings this to the table whether it is used as a rinse or irrigation agent or as a paste for scrubbing your chompers.
Even if you use something else to brush your teeth with a rinse of baking soda solution could be all you need to lower acidity.
No Added Chemicals
Compared to modern toothpastes a baking soda and water brushing routine is incredibly clean, and wholesome.
Modern toothpastes have all sorts of chemical additives of dubious effect and quality, chief among these calls for concern being fluoride.
The subject of fluoride consumption in humans is something of a hot topic, and we will not delve deeply into it here.
Suffice it to say that fluoride is definitely toxic when it builds up in the human body, and although it is found in every kind of toothpaste, used at every dentist office and is even found in many public water supplies that does not mean we aren’t ingesting too much.
Fluoride toxicity can cause systemic muscle and joint pain, organ problems (including kidney and heart problems), diarrhea, vomiting and vertigo.
It is this concern about slow and insidious fluoride build up that has led an increasing number of people to forsake products containing it entirely.
Baking soda makes a great replacement option for toothpaste if you are worried about fluoride toxicity.
That is quite the list of advantages inherent to baking soda for oral care.
But, as I mentioned above, it is not all good news. Baking soda does have specific disadvantages that you must work around. We will examine those next.
Cons of Baking Soda for Oral Care
Only So-So Against Cavities
Despite all of the worry over it and the evidence about its toxicity when it builds up in the human body fluoride is absolutely awesome as a topical agent for teeth that serves to prevent decay and cavities.
Baking soda alone is only so-so at best, and is meager more often.
This means you’ll need to be extremely diligent about preventing cavities; easier said than done for most of us no matter how cautious we are at brushing our teeth.
It should be noted that the antiseptic qualities of baking soda in conjunction with its basic nature will kill off many germs that will eventually give way to cavities.
But, it has been proven time and time again that baking soda alone is generally only reliable for slowing the onset of said cavities.
Taste and Texture
There are no two ways about it: Baking soda alone is frankly pretty gross for brushing your teeth.
Since it is a form of sodium it naturally has a very salty taste as mentioned above, and in conjunction with its sandy, gritty texture and slight effervescent effect it can be positively disgusting.
Some people have a hard time stopping themselves from gagging when brushing with straight baking soda!
Maybe you will, or maybe you won’t, but chances are it is just not going to be as pleasant an experience as your usual toothpaste.
This “mouth feel” can be mitigated by DIY additives like peppermint or spearmint essential oils, but being forced to purchase and then mix these oils into your homemade baking soda toothpaste is going to offset any cost savings you might have netted from purchasing baking soda alone.
Abrasivity May Harm Tissues
Baking soda has a crystalline structure, very much like table salt but usually a little finer.
When mixed with water, it forms a paste or slurry that you can dip your toothbrush in prior to going at it and this will usually do much to soften and slightly degrade these individual crystals.
However, people with sensitive gums often find that straight baking soda paste feels very harsh on the tissues of their mouth.
This can also be an issue for certain individuals who are simply irritated by the baking soda.
You should not use baking soda for oral care if you notice that your gums, tongue or cheeks become inflamed or raw feeling after brushing.
Most users report that the baking soda paste feels very much like wet sand in their mouths, and this should inform your opinion of just how rough it can be.
Remember, listen to your body and don’t keep plugging away at it making a bad situation worse just because you read about it on the internet, even from us!
That concludes an overview of the good, the bad and the nasty with baking soda for oral care. Now, how do we use it?
How to Use Baking Soda for Oral Care
There are two ways to employ baking soda in your oral care routine, and both are quick and easily performed.
You won’t be wasting any time in the bathroom when brushing your teeth with baking soda.
The two methods are:
- Paste, for brushing
- Wash, for irrigation and rinsing
Using either of these methods could not be simpler.
Paste Method Steps
- In a small bowl, add a tablespoon or two tablespoons of baking soda.
- Slowly add water and stir. Your objective is to create a thin paste or slurry that will still cling to your brush and your teeth.
- Once you have achieved the right consistency, dip your brush or scoop out some of the paste and then brush normally.
- If the paste is too clumpy or feels too abrasive simply add a little more water, stir and try again.
- When finished, rinse mouth with water normally.
And that’s it!
Like I said, it could not be easier and will take you scarcely more time to set up then uncapping your toothpaste before recapping it and putting it back in the morning.
Wash Method Steps
- In a medium sized cup add two tablespoons of baking soda.
- Add water and stir until the mixture reaches a consistency like skim milk.
- Rinse or irrigate your mouth normally as you would with mouthwash or a dental appliance irrigator.
- Rinse with fresh water if required.
That’s all there is to it!
Using Baking Soda in Conjunction with Toothpaste
Some folks have concerns about fluoride but don’t want to give up all the benefits for their teeth. Other people just want to cut back on the amount of expensive toothpaste they are purchasing.
If this describes you, there is no reason why you cannot use baking soda in rotation with your usual toothpaste.
You don’t necessarily want to use them together, obviously, but there is no reason why you couldn’t use fluoride toothpaste every other or every third time you brush your teeth in an effort to cut down on fluoride uptake while still providing the benefits of cavity protection to your teeth.
Alternately, you can do whatever schedule makes sense to you.
Give It a Try!
Baking soda is a marvelously multi-purpose compound and its usefulness extends all the way into your bathroom for your morning brushing and mouth care routine.
Baking soda has much to commend it for oral care and so long as you can account for a couple of shortcomings it is likely that it can go the distance for you and possibly even replace toothpaste entirely.
Review the information presented in this article and see if baking soda is right for you and your oral hygiene routine.