When you’re not able to shop for your favorite products or visit professionals for beauty services, certain DIY hacks can definitely come in handy. As we all continue to stay home to help flatten the COVID-19 curve, we’ve found ourselves seeking out these tricks more than ever before. One in particular has piqued our interest, thanks to a viral video on everyone’s new favorite social media app, TikTok: using pure baking soda as a tooth whitener.
The video shows a simple step-by-step tutorial. First, you take a dry toothbrush and swirl it around a cup full of baking soda so that the bristles are completely covered. Next, you pour liquid hydrogen peroxide over the baking soda-coated brush before cleaning your teeth with it. But does it actually work? And, most importantly, is it safe? The answer is twofold.
“Baking soda certainly can whiten your teeth,” Los Angeles-based dentist Rhonda Kalasho tells Allure. Kalasho explains that baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, has been used for decades as a home whitening substance.
Arizona-based dentist Brian Harris agrees and says baking soda is one of the most common ways to whiten teeth naturally at home. “Because baking soda is a mildly abrasive substance, it removes surface stains from your teeth,” Harris tells Allure.
The ingredient is also found in many toothpastes, which both experts say is a safer form for daily use. “Baking soda is found in several kinds of toothpaste because of its ability to whiten and neutralize acids in the mouth,” says Kalasho. “Through scientific study, we are able to find what a safe amount of baking soda actually is in order to utilize it effectively in toothpaste and oral products so that it is not too abrasive to the teeth.”
But even though it’s backed by science, Kalasho says it shouldn’t be used on its own in your daily cleaning routine. “[Daily use of pure baking soda] can start causing little micro-fractures and scratches in your enamel and other layers…which can weaken its structure,” she says. “Ultimately, that will make the teeth more susceptible to staining and [make them] more yellow and brittle over time.”
Harris says he would recommend it if it was the only option available. “I usually don’t recommend it to my patients because it doesn’t have cavity-fighting properties and it also does not taste good,” he says. “Patients often complain that it can leave the mouth feeling gritty and unpleasant. There are much better products on the market that can whiten as effectively but also taste good and help prevent cavities at the same time.” So even if you try this hack, it still doesn’t serve as a suitable replacement for your toothpaste in terms of cleaning your teeth and mouth.