Whether you’re cued in to the health hazards of commercial toothpastes, or just looking for some bi-weekly TLC to add to your dental discipline, brushing your pearly whites with some sea salt and/or baking soda is a safe and natural way to ensure strong teeth and gums, break down plaque buildup, and protect against bad breath. Either used alone or together, sea salt and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) are inexpensive, time-tested treatments for tooth care.
Let’s Talk Sea Salt
Calcium, magnesium, silicon, phosphorus, sodium, nickel, iron—just a few of many trace elements and minerals found in sea salt. These nutrients strengthen gums, protect against tarter and bad breath, and may even whiten your teeth over time. High in iodine, sea salt has antibacterial properties and helps neutralize acids in the mouth. Salt makes you salivate, and your saliva creates an antibacterial barrier that protects your enamel.
You can either dip a wet toothbrush into a half teaspoon of sea salt and brush your teeth as you regularly would…or you can rinse with a saltwater solution. Mix a half teaspoon of sea salt with four ounces of warm water. Let the salt dissolve, and then slosh the solution around in your mouth for 30 seconds. Be sure to spit and not swallow when done! A saltwater rinse helps allay swollen, inflamed gums and rinses away bacteria in the mouth.
Let’s Talk Baking Soda
Baking soda has long been praised as the natural way to whiten teeth. It’s gritty enough to clean your teeth of tarter and plaque without being so abrasive that it wears away your tooth enamel.
Sodium bicarbonate is highly alkaline, and as such counteracts acids in the mouth (acids cause tooth decay), kills bacteria and germs, and combats bad breath.
You can mix baking soda with water into a paste-like consistency to clean teeth. Or you can combine baking soda and salt to make your own homemade toothpaste. If you aren’t comfortable ditching your traditional toothpaste entirely, brush with sea salt and baking soda once or twice a week as supplemental dental care.
Are there any side effects to be wary of? According to Dr. Paul H. Keyes D.D.S., clinical investigator at the National Institute of Dental Research, NO! Keyes maintains, “Over the years when I was lecturing, I asked thousands of dentists and hygienists to raise their hands if they had ever seen destructive periodontal disease in person[s] who had regularly brushed with salt and/or [baking] soda. I have never seen a hand! And although I have not seen many such cases, the periodontal health in these patients has always been excellent.”