For centuries, many concoctions have been devised for cleaning teeth and brushing. Some of those ingredients have been ground pebbles, honey, incense, burnt seashells, coral, talc, salt cattle hooves, and dragon’s blood. The popularity of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) as an ingredient has ebbed and flowed in popularity over the past two centuries. It has many beneficial properties for oral hygiene in theory.
It is an excellent buffer to minimize the destructive effects of acid on tooth enamel. In high doses, it has some antibacterial properties. It is a mild abrasive for cleansing while brushing. It is also very compatible with fluoride. However, baking soda is very soluble in water and does not last long enough in the mouth on its own to provide these benefits.
In theory, baking soda is a tremendous toothpaste ingredient because of the way it responds in a test tube. Therefore, it would seem prudent to consider purchasing toothpastes that have baking soda in them, if they also contain fluoride. However, in order to stabilize baking soda in the mouth, modern toothpastes that contain it also have other ingredients, such as pyrophosphates, that may be allergenic to some individuals. Therefore, baking soda content probably should not be any more important in selecting a toothpaste than flavor or consistency.
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