Activated charcoal has been incorporated into many commercially-available cosmetics products such as face wash, makeup, and now, even toothpaste. It’s marketed in toothpaste as a way to naturally whiten teeth, but does it actually work or is it a gimmick that poses a risk to your dental health? Chapel Hill NC dentists Dr. James P. Furgurson and Dr. Nathan O. White and the American Dental Association have some advice for those who might be considering charcoal toothpaste.
What is Charcoal?
You might be familiar with charcoal when it’s used in grills to cook food over steady heat with minimal smoke. Charcoal is a porous black solid form of carbon that’s created when wood is burned without oxygen. It becomes “activated” when it’s made at an even higher temperature, giving it more adsorptive qualities, meaning that particles will stick to it.
This adsorptive quality is what makes activated charcoal an effective way to help absorb toxins in the stomach in case of poisoning. But does it actually work to draw out toxins in the teeth and make teeth whiter?
Should I Use Charcoal Toothpaste?
According to the American Dental Association, there is no evidence that charcoal toothpaste is safe or effective, and it may actually hurt the teeth and gums.
Activated charcoal is an abrasive substance, which can remove the enamel, the hard outer layer of the teeth. This is what gets whitened when you use a whitening toothpaste, but charcoal removes the enamel and exposes a more yellow layer of the tooth called dentin.
Toothpaste and toothbrushes are designed to gently remove plaque and other impurities from the surface of the teeth. Using a more abrasive material like charcoal toothpaste might make it more likely that your teeth will get stained because enamel is degraded over time.
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. Furgurson and Dr. White.
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 your Chapel Hill dentists today.