Activated charcoal is a popular addition to many commercially-available products such as face wash, makeup, and now, even toothpaste. Charcoal is added to toothpaste and sold as a way to naturally whiten teeth, but you’re right if you’re skeptical about its effectiveness.
Charlotte, NC dentist Dr. Durning Moore and the American Dental Association have some advice for people who are curious about whether they should use charcoal toothpaste.
Charcoal is a black solid form of carbon that comes from burning organic material down to its basic form. Organic material is made of carbon and when it is burned, you are left with a form of carbon called charcoal. Charcoal becomes “activated” when it’s burned at an even higher temperature, making it more porous, thus making it effective at making particles 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, like the teeth?
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.
Charcoal toothpaste is advertised as a whitening agent that can remove particles from the teeth, but this is a misleading claim. Discolored teeth are due to stains that cannot simply be removed by drawing them out of the teeth.
Activated charcoal, as you may imagine, is an abrasive substance, which can remove the outer layer of the teeth. This outer layer, called the enamel, is what gets whitened when you use a whitening toothpaste. Using an abrasive material such as charcoal in toothpaste can actually remove enamel and expose a more yellow, and sensitive, layer of the tooth called the 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. Moore.
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. Moore online or by phone at (704) 275-5323 today.