Should you use salt as a toothpaste replacement?


(CNN) -- If you regularly enjoy coffee, tea, red wine và pastas with marinara sauce, you might be aware that these foods and beverages leave behind stains on your teeth well after they are consumed.

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But if you think you"ve found a whitening solution in the form of table salt (sodium chloride) or baking soda (another type of salt, sodium bicarbonate), think again.

"I see no clinical reason why someone would brush their teeth with salt," said Dr. Matt Messina, an Ohio-based dentist & assistant professor at the Ohio State University College of Dentistry. "There is no scientific evidence that brushing with salt has any sort of whitening effect on teeth."

The same can be said for baking soda, although there is more of a scientific basis khổng lồ the value of using sodium bicarbonate to brush your teeth, Messina explained. It"s a mild abrasive, & chemically also a mild bleach, which can neutralize cavity-causing acids. So when commercially available toothpaste didn"t exist, he said, baking soda made sense for its ability to lớn polish teeth and reduce acidity.

But that was then; today, you"ve got better options. In fact, exposing teeth khổng lồ salt or baking soda could erode the tooth"s surface enamel over time. Enamel is like the finished surface of a floor: It"s a thin, hard outer layer that protects each tooth. When enamel is worn away by an irritant, such as salt, decay can occur as bacteria in plaque are able lớn penetrate teeth more quickly, where they produce acids that can lead lớn cavities.

Nerve damage can occur as well, và gums may become more sensitive, explained Dr. Gerald Grossman, a New York-based cosmetic dentist & diplomate of the American Board of Aesthetic Dentistry.

Since salt & baking soda are abrasive they could remove stains from teeth, but that"s like trying to lớn lighten your floors by sanding them down, said Messina, who is also a spokesperson for the American Dental Association. It"ll work -- but eventually you"d sand away the floor"s entire surface.

"You might see short-term whitening with an abrasive, as it will remove surface stains and teeth may get whiter quickly, but the long-term damage is in no way worth that," Messina said. The erosion of enamel can also cause teeth lớn become more yellow over the long-term, as the yellow-colored dentin, the inner layer of tooth, is exposed.

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There"s no way to know how much is too much scrubbing with salt, because everybody"s case is different, Messina explained. "But enamel doesn"t grow back ... Once it"s gone, it"s gone."

The best way khổng lồ whiten teeth

To keep your teeth as trắng as possible, it"s important to lớn brush and clean between your teeth & floss on a regular basis with a toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association. "Clean teeth are whiter & healthier," Messina said.

The ADA seal of acceptance indicates the toothpaste has been independently tested and is safe & effective when used as directed, Messina explained.

Sodium chloride -- aka salt -- might be used as an ingredient in toothpaste, but if it is, "the percent in the toothpaste would be very, very small," Grossman said. "It"s not like taking a ¼ tsp of salt & putting it into your paste và brushing your teeth," he added. "It would be in solution. There is nothing there that would be abrasive."

If regular brushing và flossing isn"t giving you the results you want, both Grossman và Messina recommend a personalized, in-office consultation with a dentist. "There are safe and effective whitening techniques, but they will be different for each individual person," Messina said.

Grossman recommends a bleaching system with a light-activated technology, as well as custom home trays that can help maintain whiter teeth as you continue to eat & drink your favorite foods and beverages -- you know, your morning Joe, that glass of red wine, và that tasty pasta with tomato sauce.

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First published on October 3, 2019 / 12:27 PM

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