Every major toothpaste manufacturer has created a product that includes baking soda, despite the fact that baking soda has no therapeutic value.
"Baking soda has a taste sensation that makes teeth feel good, but there is no proven therapeutic value," explains William van Dyk, D.D.S., a general practitioner in San Pablo, CA. "Baking soda is a product of nostalgia; it's one of your grandmother's favorite health remedies. Manufacturers know this, but I think they also know it really doesn't provide true therapeutic benefit. It's a marketing technique."
The American Dental Association agrees. "We think the public believes there is some benefit, but in fact, there is no evidence to show any therapeutic value," says Ken Burrell, D.D.S., senior director of the ADA's Council on Scientific Affairs, Chicago. "Researchers still are working on it, and some evidence may be found down the road, but right now we think people buy it for sentimental reasons."
Throughout the early part of this century, many Americans cleansed their teeth by dipping their brushes or fingers into a box of baking soda, or by using a baking soda and salt combination. In 1988, Church & Dwight, the makers of Arm & Hammer® baking soda, decided to capitalize on this bit of Americana when it create the first baking soda toothpaste.
Within a few years, Arm & Hammer had grabbed almost 10 percent of sales in supermarkets alone. The major players woke up. Now every major manufacturer has baking soda products that are promoted heavily. They should be careful, though. Sales of Arm & Hammer toothpaste has dropped dramatically during the past two years, primarily due to news from the American Dental Association that baking soda has no therapeutic value.
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