Activated charcoal is now an ingredient in many commercially-available products. The products include face wash, makeup, and now, as a way to naturally whiten teeth, even toothpaste. But does it actually work? Is charcoal actually an effective ingredient to whiten your teeth or is it just a gimmick that can actually risk your health? Ellicott City MD dentist Dr. Ray Becker of Howard County Smiles and the American Dental Association have some advice for those who are curious about charcoal toothpaste.
First let’s learn a bit about charcoal, a porous black solid form of carbon that results from burning wood or other organic material better known for its uses in your barbecue. Charcoal is said to be “activated” when it’s burned at an even higher temperature, making it sticky.
This sticky quality of 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 or impurities anywhere else?
Should I Use Charcoal Toothpaste?
The American Dental Association has found no evidence that charcoal toothpaste is effective or even safe. In fact, it may actually harm your gums and teeth.
Activated charcoal is an abrasive substance. This can remove the outer layer of the tooth called the enamel. The enamel is the part you want whitened when you use a whitening toothpaste, but using charcoal can actually remove more than the stains it is meant to target. Continued use can erode your enamel and expose a sensitive yellow layer of the tooth called dentin.
Modern toothpaste and toothbrushes are formulated to gently clean the surface of the teeth. You don’t want something abrasive like charcoal scraping your teeth and removing your precious enamel. Teeth are more easily stained when the enamel is thinner.
Alternatives to Natural Whitening
The best ways to naturally whiten teeth are to maintain a healthy oral hygiene regimen, including brushing your teeth twice a day with an American Dental Association-approved whitening toothpaste, limiting intake of highly-pigmented foods like coffee and red wine, and regularly visiting Dr. Becker’s office for cleanings and examinations.
In-office teeth whitening procedures are also available. These procedures safely whiten the enamel without damaging it. Bleaching products are also available in your local drugstore or big box store with the ADA seal of approval, meaning that they have been deemed safe for teeth.
The most important part of your smile is that it’s healthy. If you’re not sure about which teeth whitening procedure is best for you, call 410.415.9013 or contact us online to schedule an appointment with Dr. Becker today.