The effect of bicarbonate/fluoride dentifrices on human plaque pH

J Clin Dent. 1997;8(6):173-7.


The acidogenic response in dental plaque after rinsing with sodium bicarbonate/fluoride dentifrice slurries was studied using three intra-oral models. In the first model, resting plaque pH was monitored in mesiobuccal plaque on upper molars and premolars in six healthy subjects after abstinence from normal oral hygiene for three days. These measurements were followed by a three-minute rinse with 10% sucrose and, following a two-minute interval, a three-minute rinse with a test dentifrice slurry. After the test dentifrice rinse, pH was monitored at regular intervals up to 60 minutes. Flow rate, pH and buffer capacity of stimulated saliva were also determined. Changes in resting pH, plaque pH minima, and maximum pH drop were calculated. A clear elevation in the resting pH was observed after bicarbonate/fluoride dentifrice rinses, and a significant increase was obtained in the pH minima. The smallest pH drop also was found after treatment with the bicarbonate/fluoride dentifrice rinse treatment (p < 0.02). A second model using telemetric partial dentures with interproximally placed micro-antimony pH electrodes was used to study the effects of rinsing with increasing concentrations of sodium bicarbonate and calcium carbonate solutions, and with a fluoride dentifrice containing sodium bicarbonate. The response to these treatments was found to be rapid, dose-dependent, and was the greatest from the sodium bicarbonate. A third model used 24 subjects to assess the effects of sodium bicarbonate/fluoride dentifrice on plaque pH before and after a glucose challenge. The use of the bicarbonate/fluoride dentifrice resulted in significantly less measurable plaque acid than the fluoride dentifrice treatment. Collectively, these results indicate bicarbonate in dentifrice to be an effective buffering agent for stabilizing the pH and neutralizing plaque acids in dental plaque.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Calcium Carbonate / pharmacology
  • Calcium Carbonate / therapeutic use*
  • Dental Plaque / physiopathology
  • Dental Plaque / therapy*
  • Dentifrices / pharmacology
  • Dentifrices / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration / drug effects
  • Microelectrodes
  • Middle Aged
  • Saliva / drug effects
  • Saliva / metabolism
  • Secretory Rate / drug effects
  • Sodium Bicarbonate / pharmacology
  • Sodium Bicarbonate / therapeutic use*
  • Sodium Fluoride / pharmacology
  • Sodium Fluoride / therapeutic use*
  • Telemetry / instrumentation
  • Telemetry / methods
  • Telemetry / statistics & numerical data


  • Dentifrices
  • Sodium Bicarbonate
  • Sodium Fluoride
  • Calcium Carbonate