Why Baking Soda Isn't A Great Choice For Teeth Whitening

Perhaps you were trying to whiten your teeth in what you thought was the gentlest, most natural way possible. So instead of using a teeth whitening kit that contains a bleaching agent, you went with an old remedy found in your kitchen cupboard. Making your own natural teeth whitening paste using baking soda and water sure seemed like a good idea at the time, but why are your teeth now so sensitive?

Teeth Whitening

Baking soda doesn't work in the same way as cosmetic teeth whitening products. These commercial products contain medical-grade hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Your dental enamel (the outer surfaces of your teeth) contains countless microscopic pores, and these pores trap the pigment residues of the various foods and drinks you consume — which is what discolors your teeth. The bleaching agent of whitening gel and toothpaste enters these pores and lightens the trapped pigments within. Baking soda works differently


Baking soda is abrasive. Instead of changing the color of any darker pigments, it simply buffs surface stains away from your teeth. It essentially lightly scours your dental enamel, scaling away stains, instead of changing their color (whitening them). The trouble is that in removing surface stains, baking soda removes a small amount of a tooth's surface enamel. With repeated usage, you may remove enough enamel to compromise the tooth's structure.

Tooth Dentin

Enamel protects the next layer of the tooth, which is made of dentin. Dentin has countless tubules (which are tiny passages) that lead from its outermost layer to its center. In the center of the tooth's dentin is the pulp chamber, and this is where the tooth's pulp (or nerve) is located. When enamel thins out, the endings of these tubules are exposed, and the nerve becomes very sensitive to temperatures (like the temperatures of food and drink). It can also be irritated by oral bacteria which are now able to reach the nerve. Your baking soda whitening efforts may be doing more harm than good.

Tooth Bonding

If your teeth are sensitive, you need cosmetic dentistry care, so make an appointment without delay. A dentist will inspect your dental enamel, but remember that enamel can't regrow itself. If you've buffed away enough of it, a dentist will need to apply an artificial replacement. This involves dental bonding, which makes use of tooth-colored composite dental resin — the same material a dentist uses to repair tooth decay. A thin layer of bonding material is applied to your teeth. It's then sculpted, dried, and polished. The good news is that your teeth are now protected, and since the composite resin can be any shade you like, your teeth are now whitened too. 

Baking soda isn't the best choice for removing stains from your teeth, but if you've been using it and your teeth have now become uncomfortably sensitive, make an appointment at a clinic that offers cosmetic dentistry care.