It's important to note that while baking soda works to brighten and prevent discoloration of your teeth, it won't necessarily make your teeth a brilliant shade of white [source: The Daily Mail]. You'll probably need a whitening product that contains bleach for that. Still, baking soda offers many other potential benefits that could make it a good addition to your oral care routine - if you use it correctly.
For example, it's possible to use baking soda all by itself (meaning sans toothpaste) as a cleanser for your teeth. Just make a quick paste by mixing baking soda and water and then dip your toothbrush into it [source: Discovery Fit & Health]. To enhance its whitening capabilities, you can even add a few drops of hydrogen peroxide [source: Planet Green].
However, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that you don't rely on baking soda alone for keeping your teeth healthy, because baking soda is simply an abrasive agent that helps remove debris and surface stains on your teeth. It doesn't necessarily fight plaque, a substance that causes gum disease and tooth decay [source: American Dental Association]. Fluoride is the ingredient found in toothpastes that fights plaque and strengthens enamel, so it's essential that you have it in your oral care routine, too. You could think, for example, that a particular dark spot on your tooth is just a stain that you can scrub away with baking soda, but it could potentially be a cavity. If that's the case, no amount of baking soda will solve the problem [source: Sahota].
Baking soda as an ingredient in a fluoridated toothpaste can also help whiten your teeth by removing surface stains. The ADA does extensive testing on toothpastes to determine their safety, effectiveness and abrasive qualities. It has given its seal of approval to several types of toothpaste that contain baking soda [source: American Dental Association].