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Harmful Effects of Charcoal Toothpaste

May 24, 2018

Filed under: Oral Hygiene,Prevention,Teeth Whitening — lrfamily @ 11:00 am

Over the years, various teeth whitening trends have taken off in popularity and almost always offer benefits that sound too good to be true. Most of the time, that’s because they usually are too good to be true! Dentists must be vigilant to the changes in these trends and educate patients whenever possible.

One of the latest trends involves using charcoal-based toothpastes to whiten and brighten teeth. However, professional dentists have a lot to say about this trend and its impact on teeth.

What Kind Of Charcoal is In Toothpaste?

When people think about charcoal, they might think about it as it relates to art supplies or as the byproduct of burning coal or wood. The type of charcoal used in charcoal-based toothpastes is activated charcoal and does have its uses in medicine. For instance, activated charcoal can be used in emergency rooms for overdoses and poisoning because it is naturally porous. Some recent trends also point to charcoal in juices or skincare products.

Because of the natural state of charcoal, many people have deduced that it can absorb and attract particles in teeth in the same way it might treat overdoses and poisons, lightening the appearance of teeth. However, dental professionals do not advocate for charcoal toothpastes and other similar whitening methods because they can do more harm than good to teeth.

Although people might think having charcoal in toothpaste is a newer practice, it actually goes back to the time of early dental care. Charcoal was a common ingredient added in toothpastes the Romans used. They favored it for its abrasive properties along with other ingredients such as crushed bones and oyster shells.

Charcoal Teeth Whitening Myths

Proponents of charcoal toothpaste claim that either adding activated charcoal to toothpaste, using manufactured charcoal toothpaste, or applying it as a paste to your teeth can take away tooth stains. However, scientific studies in publications such as the Journal of the American Dental Association have not drawn conclusive evidence about the benefits of charcoal as a teeth whitener.

Moreover, rather than making teeth white, it is possible charcoal can contribute to making teeth appear more yellow, not less, because of its abrasive nature. Charcoal toothpaste happens to wear down enamel which protects teeth and exposes dentin, the softer tissue beneath that also looks yellow in appearance. Without enamel, your teeth are not as protected, and they can also be quite sensitive. Using an abrasive material like charcoal can do much more harm than good, and the damage can even be permanent.

What to Know Before You Try Charcoal Toothpaste

If using charcoal toothpaste is still appealing to you, it is important to be very cautious. Dentists advise brushing with charcoal toothpaste once every other week if you do decide to use it, and they also advise not brushing with it for a long period of time when you do.

Some patients are not suited for charcoal-based toothpaste products due to their health history. For instance, patients with gum recession (meaning their gums have receded, more likely exposing the tooth root) might experience sensitivity if using charcoal toothpaste. So, if you do decide to use toothpaste that has this abrasive ingredient, do so with care. If you do notice sensitivity develop, immediately stop using it.

Safe Teeth Whitening Options

If you’d still like to have bright, white teeth but would rather not use charcoal, don’t worry! There are plenty of safe options for teeth whitening that use gentler ingredients and methods. Plus, the recommended methods for whitening teeth are dentist approved, so you don’t have to worry about damaging your teeth with methods that don’t work.

Our dentists offer both in-office teeth whitening such as with the GLO Science Teeth Whitening system and take-home teeth whitening kits to help you achieve the white smile you’ve always wanted. Some teeth whitening gels use carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide in different levels of concentration, and your dentist will be able to advise on the best level for you so that you achieve a white smile in a safe way.

An added benefit to teeth whitening where a dental professional is involved is that the teeth whitening methods they prescribe to do not damage enamel or gums like methods using abrasive ingredients like charcoal. Trying to whiten your teeth on your own with products not recommended by dentists might lead to unexpected negative consequences like enamel or gum damage that can come as a result of using things like charcoal toothpaste.

However, it is important to note that these methods whiten your natural teeth and not veneers, crowns, etc. The only way to achieve the same look with these is to have them replaced to match your whiter teeth.

To keep whitened teeth whiter for longer, dentists recommend avoiding foods and drinks that can stain teeth, such as wine, coffee, soda, and various types of dark fruits like blueberries. Use a mouthwash to rinse away debris and continue to brush as usual. If you notice your smile isn’t as white as you’d like, you can always come in for a whitening touchup treatment!

Contact Our Little Rock Dentists

You don’t have to follow trends to get a white smile. Use tried and true methods with the guidance of an experienced dental team on your side! Little Rock Family Dental Care provides teeth whitening and a variety of cosmetic services to help you achieve your desired smile. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

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