Have you ever wondered, “Does lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda whiten teeth”? Then continue reading to learn more about the effectiveness of both baking soda and lemon for teeth whitening and discover some of the medical counter-claims available. And if after reading them you still want to give this a shot, we will show you how to use lemon juice and baking soda “safely” for teeth whitening.
Can You Use Baking Soda and Lemon for Teeth Whitening?
There are websites galore advocating the use of baking soda and lemon for teeth whitening. To put the claims in perspective, let us explore the claims and the corresponding medical experts’ views for each of these two home remedies for teeth whitening first.
Lemon for Teeth Whitening
As a natural bleaching agent, lemon juice is touted to help whiten teeth but there are as many counter claims from dental experts and scientific researchers saying that the acid in lemon juice causes erosion of the tooth enamel.
Teeth erosion may then cause sensitivity to hot and cold substances when the underlying dentin gets exposed. Teeth erosion can also cause the edges of the teeth to look transparent. Teeth also become prone to cavities when the protective enamel is damaged, not to mention tooth loss.
A 2008 study published in the Journal of General Dentistry found lemon juice to have the most enamel eroding action of all citrus fruit juices. In the study lemon juice was compared with orange and grapefruit juices.
As a way to counter this eroding action of the acid in lemon juice on the teeth, most websites recommends using lemon juice together with baking soda since baking soda is alkaline in nature and will thus neutralize the acid.
Baking Soda for Teeth Whitening
Baking soda has long history of use for cleaning teeth. It helps to balance the pH of the mouth and thus fight bad breath caused by oral bacterial activity. The mild abrasive action of baking soda is known to remove light stains from the surface of the teeth and thus leave them whiter.
Colgate says that baking soda is indeed effective for removal of surface stains and thus whitening of teeth, thanks to its abrasiveness, but is quick to notes that it may not be as effective for removal of “deeper, old stains”.
Bhandal Dental Surgery shares in this opinions saying that baking soda is effective and safe for teeth whitening so long as:
- It is used only once a week and for no longer than 2 minutes each time to prevent teeth enamel erosion and damage.
- Baking soda is not used as “…a replacement for toothpaste since there is no fluoride in it”. Fluoride is essential for strengthening of teeth’s enamel and prevention of cavities.
The American Dental Association (ADA) however doesn’t recommend using either baking soda or lemon juice for teeth whitening at home, instead suggesting that you look for teeth whitening products with the American Dental Association Seal.
Read more: Brushing teeth with Baking Soda
How to Use Baking Soda and Lemon for Teeth Whitening
As you may have noted, there are parties on both sides of the divide, with some medical experts and organization arguing against the use of baking soda and lemon juice for teeth whitening and others saying that is okay to use these remedies for teeth whitening so long as it is used safely, in the right way.
Here is how to use baking soda and lemon juice to whiten teeth:
- Baking soda
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Combine 1 teaspoon of baking soda with enough freshly squeezed lemon juice to form a paste.
- Optionally, add a pinch of sea salt to the mixture.
- With the help of a paper towel or cotton swab, wipe the excess saliva from your teeth.
- Now apply the baking soda-lemon juice paste on your teeth and leave it on for a minute
- Use your toothbrush to clean your teeth as usual for one to two minutes. If you brush for longer than 2 minutes, you may erode and damage your enamel.
- Repeat this treatment once a week at maximum; don’t use it for everyday teeth cleaning or brightening as it might damage your precious teeth.
- Dilute lemon juice with equal proportions of water.
- With the help of a cotton swab, dab the resulting solution on your teeth.
- Allow the solution to stay on for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Wet your toothbrush with water and then apply baking soda on its bristles.
- Brush with the baking soda paste for 2 minutes or less.
- Rinse your mouth with cool water.
- Repeat once a week.
Some people use lemon juice in combination with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide since hydrogen peroxide is also known to have a natural bleaching action. If you do, remember to stay within the 2 minute timeline suggested by Bhandal Dental Surgery to avoid damage to the teeth’s enamel due to the enamel eroding action of lemon juice and abrasiveness of bicarbonate of soda.
There are also people who use vinegar instead of hydrogen peroxide. The same rule still applies, so don’t brush for too long.
Extra Tips to Fight the Acidity Due To Lemon Juice
- Chew a sugarless gum after using the above baking soda remedies. This enhances the production of saliva in your mouth and thus get rid of the acidity.
- You may also benefit from sipping a glass of water with cucumber slices in it.
- Do not brush your teeth immediately after eating or drinking acidic drinks such as carbonated soft drinks, wine etc.
Note: You should not whiten or clean your teeth with baking soda if you have braces.
Baking Soda and Lemon for Teeth Before and After Pictures
Because before and after pictures provide great avenue with which to review the efficacy of a home remedy or medical treatment, below are several pictures showing the results obtained by the patients after using baking soda and lemon juice paste as teeth whitener:
- Bhandal Dental Surgery: Does Brushing Your Teeth With Baking Soda Whiten Your Teeth?
- Colgate: Does Baking Soda Whiten Teeth?
- Journal of General Dentistry: Topographic and radiographic profile assessment of dental erosion. Part II: effect of citrus fruit juices on human dentition.