Baking soda helps teeth & gums
Sodium bicarbonate in dental & other applications
Considering the many uses it has been put to throughout history, baking soda appears to be some kind of jack of all trades, including multiple uses for personal and dental hygiene.
While frequently produced artificially, sodium bicarbonate (also sodium hydrogen carbonate, chemical formula NaHCO3), more commonly known as baking soda or bicarbonate of soda, is a naturally occurring substance in the human body and found dissolved in numerous mineral springs. Among other important functions it fulfills, bicarbonate in saliva buffers & neutralizes plaque acids!
In addition to its numerous time-honoured uses (for household and other "clean-up" and deodorizing purposes), baking soda has also been recommended for use in baths and rinses for chelating ionizing radiation and/or killing bacteria. Taken orally or by injection, it is even being credited with Treating Cancer & Destroying Tumors.
Dental care applications for which I've seen baking soda recommended, suggested or used include:
Apart from having been handed down for generations as folk medicine(s), baking soda alone or combined with (sea) salt is/are recommended by a number of eminent health authors, incl. Dr. Hulda Regehr Clark, renegade dentist Dr. Robert Nara, psychic Edgar Cayce and physicist and healer Barbara Brennan.
In fact, Dr. Paul H. Keyes D.D.S., clinical investigator at the National Institute of Dental Research, maintained that regular brushing with salt and/or [baking] soda absolutely prevents all destructive periodontal (gum) disease, and said that he had "never seen periodontal (gum) problems in patients who used salt or baking soda dentrifice with any degree of regularity" (compare quote).
Dr. Hulda Regehr Clark advises in her book The Cure For All Diseases: "To clean teeth, use plain water or chemically pure baking soda —but dissolve it in water first, otherwise it is too abrasive4." (Compare Dr. Hulda Clark's instructions for brushing teeth and natural mouth care.)
Barbara Brennan (author of the classics Hands of Light and Light Emerging) recommends to mix baking soda with sea salt and dip your toothbrush into the powder.
Dentist Robert O. Nara writes in Money By The Mouthful, "...don't be overly concerned about which toothpaste is best. You might as well just buy whatever is on sale, if you're a 'toothpaste' family.1 You'd be far better off with tooth powder; one of the old-fashioned kind: There are many on the shelves, and they are much cheaper than toothpaste...and they work better.2 You'd be hard-pressed to come up with a better toothpaste, as a matter of fact, than Grandma's old standby: Good old baking soda. It works just fine." And in How to Become Dentally Self-Sufficient, Dr. Nara writes, "Mix up some baking soda and salt and use it as a tooth powder. It will help clean your teeth, the soda will counteract acidity in the mouth and the salt will give you a fresh, clean taste afterward. If the combination of salt and soda is a little bit tough on germs...that's tough, right?"
Baking soda of course can be very advantageously mixed in your self-made tooth powder.
Edgar Cayce according to whose channeling today's "soft" foods (as opposed to what he called "detergent" foods such as raw carrots, lettuce etc.) were a cause of teeth and gum disorders, said that "keeping such teeth cleansed with an equal combination of baking soda and salt at least three to four times a week will cleanse these of this disturbance.... Use any good dentifrice once or twice a day." (457-11) [Remember this was written before the advent of many modern chemical "blessings", compare Toothpaste - hazardous to dental and bodily health?.]
Baking soda with 3% hydrogen peroxide
Alternatively, one can mix sodium bicarbonate with a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution and use instead of toothpaste - according to Dr. Hulda Clark, however, one shouldn't use hydrogen peroxide if one has metal fillings, because they react. There are other reasons to exert caution with hydrogen peroxide, so all things considered, it may be best to reserve the above mix for use as a simple method to whiten stained teeth.
Baking soda rinses and "packs"
Sodium bicarbonate can also be found in some mouthwashes. Dr. Nara advises,
"Another excellent mouth rinse is a home-brew mixture: A teaspoon of baking soda and a teaspoon of salt in one cup of water will give you a rinse of genuine value. The salt will help draw fluids from the tissues while it stimulates saliva production. The soda will react against any acid present in the mouth while it helps remove any odor. The combination is not an unpleasant taste...just a bit 'different' and one easy to become familiar with." (And why not experiment by adding a few drops of essential oil?)
Personally, after using a self-made tooth powder for brushing consisting of whatever leftover herbs (finely ground) that I have available, xylitol, baking soda and other ingredients that I have handy such as germicidal essential oils, followed by thorough repeated rinsing, I often apply baking soda straight to my teeth and gums and keep it on as long as possible while taking a shower. Under the shower, I then thoroughly rinse my mouth, forcing, swishing and straining the water through all my teeth until the water that comes out feels totally clean (a good though not perfect replacement for flossing in my view). Before falling asleep, I may apply peppermint or tea tree oil directly on my teeth that need healing (the latter should not be swallowed, see tea tree oil). Even better (and certainly better tasting) may be xylitol rinses.
Baking soda can whiten teeth
A testimonial received by Healing Teeth Naturally reads, "I have two children who are 8 and 11. No matter how much I brushed their teeth always looked yellow. I started using baking soda two days ago and WOW! beautiful white teeth." Baking soda has also been described as a powerful stain remover.
Why baking soda?
As seen in the quotes from Dr. Nara above, baking soda due to its alkalinity (high pH3) will neutralize the acids in the mouth (a major cause of tooth decay), kill germs, mop up unpleasant odours and thus help sweeten your breath and keep your gums healthy. What's more, contrary to a widely held belief5 baking soda is actually the least abrasive agent (apart from plain water) one could use for toothbrushing, see Toothpaste abrasiveness index.
According to health author Marc Sircus, sodium bicarbonate tends to maintain a pH3 of 8.1 (7 is neutral) even when acids, which lower pH, or bases, which raise pH, are added to the solution. In other words, sodium bicarbonate should raise any saliva pH that is lower than 8 (i.e. increase saliva alkalinity). Acid saliva furthers demineralisation (= cavity development), while neutral or alkaline saliva furthers remineralisation of teeth and makes them caries-resistant (see Demineralisation/remineralisation).
Personally, I have seen baking soda near-instantly "heal" a tooth that was painful to brush, as soon as it was "hit" by my brush dipped in baking soda, all sensitivity vanished.
In summary, with its high pH and disinfectant and antiseptic properties, oral rinses or brushing your teeth with a sodium bicarbonate solution is likely to reduce the amount of harmful oral microbial flora by killing off acid-loving bacteria while alkalinizing your mouth.
1 It may be much wiser to avoid any conventional toothpaste since they can actively harm your dental and bodily health, see Toothpaste.
2 Compare Tooth powder.
3 The pH scale goes from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. Values below 7 are acid and values above 7 are alkaline.
4 Here Dr. Clark has fallen for a popular myth - apart from water, baking soda is the least abrasive dental cleaning agent one can use, see Toothpaste abrasiveness index.
5 Perhaps baking soda aquired its undeserved reputation as an abrasive substance (and thus detrimental to the enamel) due to the fact that the first impression of the dry powder taken straight into the mouth can feel slightly harsh.