If you are anything like most of the population, you wish that you had whiter and healthier teeth. A beaming smile can give a person confidence in all sorts of situations.  But when you are on a budget, it can be hard to know what you can do other than regular brushing and flossing to make your teeth as white as they can be.

This is where baking soda comes in – an alkaline compound that some people use on their teeth. Before you buy a baking soda multi-pack, here's what you need to know:

The benefits of brushing with baking soda

The chemical structure of baking soda is mildly abrasive, and this means that it can effectively scrub surface stains away and act as a tooth whitening agent. This is good news if a build-up of daily stains from too many cups of coffee and cigarettes are beginning to affect your pearly whites.

If you are ever paranoid about having bad breath, an additional benefit of baking soda is that it will effectively remove nasty breath odours. The nasty bacteria in your mouth will absorb right into the baking soda so your breath is left fresh. Incidentally, this is also why people use baking soda on carpets and in drains.

Last but not least, a major advantage of baking soda is that it's cheap and accessible. You can find it in any supermarket, so after reading this article, you could head to the supermarket and be brushing your teeth with baking soda this evening, with no notable dent in your wallet.

The pitfalls of brushing with baking soda

Before you reach for your toothbrush, you should be aware that brushing with baking soda isn't all good news. First of all, the mild abrasive qualities could successfully lift surface stains from your teeth. If, however, you have more deeply rooted stains, you should talk to your dentist about professional laser tooth whitening treatments that will penetrate deeper stains.

Finally, you should be careful about using baking soda too often. Although it's abrasive quality can lift stains, it might also work away at your enamel. Enamel is the protective covering of your teeth, and when this gets eroded, your teeth will be weaker and more susceptible to plaque attacks. For this reason, some people choose not to use baking soda directly on their teeth, but will instead choose a toothpaste that has some baking soda in the formula.