Charcoal is in many commercially-available cosmetics and hygiene items such as face wash, makeup, and now, even toothpaste. It’s marketed as a way to draw out impurities and naturally whiten teeth without harsh chemicals, but does it actually work, or is it a gimmick that can actually risk your oral health? Sandy Springs GA dentist Dr. Brenda Paulen and her team at Proud Smiles have some advice about charcoal toothpaste.
Charcoal is a porous solid form of carbon that results from burning wood or other organic material that many people use in their grills to cook food. It becomes “activated” when it’s burned at an even higher temperature, making it even more porous and effective at making things stick to it.
This “stickiness” is why activated charcoal is commonly used in medicine to help absorb toxins in the stomach. It is also added to many personal hygiene products as a way to draw out toxins and impurities — but it doesn’t actually work like that.
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, because your teeth become more porous.
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 highly pigmented foods like coffee and red wine, and regularly visiting Dr. Paulen.
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. Paulen today.