If you’ve seen people using a dark-colored substance in an effort to whiten their teeth, you’re probably seeing charcoal toothpaste. Activated charcoal is available in many commercially-available products like face wash and makeup, and now even toothpaste. It’s marketed as a way to naturally whiten teeth without harsh chemicals, but does it actually work? Gouverneur, NY dentist Dr. Nicholas F. Gardner and the American Dental Association have some advice for those who are curious about charcoal toothpaste.
Charcoal is a porous black solid form of carbon that results from burning wood or other organic material. Charcoal becomes “activated” when it’s burned at an even higher temperature, making it more effective at making things stick to it.
This ability to make things stick to activated charcoal is why it’s commonly used in medicine to help absorb toxins in the stomach. But does it actually work to draw out toxins anywhere else?
Should I Use Charcoal Toothpaste?
The American Dental Association has not found any evidence that charcoal toothpaste is safe or effective, and it may actually harm the teeth and gums.
Activated charcoal is abrasive, which can remove the outer layer of the tooth called the enamel. This is what gets whitened when you use a whitening toothpaste, but using charcoal can actually remove enamel and expose a more yellow layer of the tooth called dentin.
Modern toothpaste and toothbrushes are designed to gently clean the surface of the teeth, and you don’t want something abrasive scraping your teeth and removing precious enamel. Removing enamel actually makes it more likely that your teeth will get stained.
Alternatives to Natural Whitening
The best ways to naturally whiten teeth are healthy oral habits, such as brushing your teeth twice a day with an American Dental Association-approved whitening toothpaste, limiting intake of staining foods like coffee and red wine, and regularly visiting Dr. Gardner.
There are also in-office teeth whitening procedures that safely whiten the enamel without damaging it. There are also bleaching products available in retail stores with the ADA seal of approval that are safe for teeth.
The most important part of your smile is its health. If you’re not sure about which teeth whitening procedure is best for you, schedule an appointment with Dr. Gardner today.