Activated charcoal is now a featured ingredient in many commercially-available products such as face wash, makeup, and now, even toothpaste where it is billed as a way to naturally whiten teeth. But does it actually work as promised or is it a gimmick that can actually risk the health of your teeth? Columbia, SC dentist Dr. Tom Trinkner 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 is considered “activated” after it has been burned at an even higher temperature, which makes it “stickier”.
This stickiness of activated charcoal is the reason it’s commonly used in medicine to help absorb toxins in the stomach such as in case of poisoning. But does it actually work to draw out stains from teeth?
Should I Use Charcoal Toothpaste?
The American Dental Association has found zero evidence that charcoal toothpaste is safe or effective, and, in fact, it may actually harm the teeth and gums.
Activated charcoal is abrasive and could even remove the hard outer layer of your teeth — called the enamel. This layer is what you want to whiten when you use a whitening toothpaste, but using a charcoal-based toothpaste can actually remove enamel and expose a softer, more yellow layer of the tooth underneath called dentin.
Modern toothpaste and toothbrushes are designed to gently clean the surface of the teeth. You don’t want an abrasive substance like charcoal scraping your teeth and removing precious enamel. Teeth are more prone to staining without the top layer of enamel and once your enamel has been lost, it does not naturally grow back.
Alternatives to Natural Whitening
The optimal way to naturally whiten teeth are maintaining healthy oral hygiene habits, such as brushing your teeth twice daily with an American Dental Association-approved whitening toothpaste, limiting intake of foods that easily stain teeth like coffee and red wine, and regularly visiting Dr. Trinkner’s office for cleanings and exams.
Dr. Trinkner offers in-office teeth whitening procedures that use specially formulated solutions to safely whiten the enamel without damaging it. Also, bleaching products are available in retail stores with the ADA seal of approval that are safe for teeth.
The most important part of having a beautiful smile is that it’s healthy. If you’re not sure about which teeth whitening procedure is best for you, call 803.400.8729 or contact us online to schedule an appointment with Dr. Trinkner today.