Background: Tooth discoloration may be caused by intrinsic or extrinsic stains or a combination of both. There are 2 major approaches to removing the stains, including the chemical mechanism using peroxides for tooth bleaching and the mechanical mechanism using abrasives in prophylactic pastes and dentifrices to remove stains, resulting in a whitening effect. Attempts have also been made to add a low concentration of peroxides to dentifrices to enhance their abrasive cleaning to remove tooth stains.
Types of studies reviewed: This article provides a review of both in vitro and clinical studies on stain removal and whitening effect of dentifrices containing sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). In recent years, whitening dentifrices have become popular because of little additional effort for use, ease of availability, low cost, and accumulated evidence of clinical efficacy and safety in the literature. Advances in research and technology have led to innovative formulations of dentifrices using baking soda as the sole abrasive or a component of an abrasive system. Baking soda is biologically compatible with acid-buffering capacities, antibacterial at high concentrations, and has a relatively lower abrasivity.
Conclusions: The evidence available in the literature indicates that baking soda-based dentifrices are effective and safe for tooth stain removal and consequently whitening. A number of clinical studies have also shown that baking soda-based dentifrices are more effective in stain removal and whitening than some non-baking soda-containing dentifrices with a higher abrasivity. So far, research efforts have mainly focused on stain removal and tooth-whitening efficacy and clinical safety of baking soda dentifrices used with manual toothbrushes, with only a few studies investigating their effects using powered toothbrushes, for which further research is encouraged.
Practical implications: As part of a daily oral hygiene practice, baking soda-based dentifrice is a desirable, alternative or additional measure for tooth stain removal and whitening.
Keywords: Baking soda; dentifrices; discoloration; sodium bicarbonate; stain; whitening.
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