Does Charcoal Toothpaste Work?

Many commercially-available products such as face wash, makeup, and now, even toothpaste are boasting about using activated charcoal as an ingredient. In the case of toothpaste, the makers claim that activated charcoal naturally whitens teeth. Does charcoal toothpaste actually work this way or is it merely a gimmick that can actually risk your health? Oakton Dental Center of Oakton VA and the American Dental Association have some advice for those who are curious about charcoal toothpaste.

Why Charcoal?

Charcoal is a solid form of carbon that is porous and black in appearance. It is produced from burning wood or other organic material. Charcoal is said to be “activated” when it is burned at an even higher temperature that what initially produced it, causing it to be more effective at making particles stick to it.

This sticky quality of activated charcoal is why it is commonly used in internal medicine to help remove toxins from the stomach. Does it actually work to draw out impurities from your tooth enamel as well?

Should I Use Charcoal Toothpaste?

The American Dental Association has not reviewed any research that indicates that charcoal toothpaste is effective or even safe. It may, in fact, actually harm your teeth and gums.

Activated charcoal is an abrasive material and can erode away the enamel or outer layer of your tooth. This layer of enamel is what you want whitened when you use a whitening toothpaste, but using toothpaste with activated charcoal can actually scrape away enamel and expose a more yellow layer of the tooth called dentin.

Modern toothpastes and toothbrushes are designed to gently clean the surfaces of teeth. You wouldn’t want something abrasive removing the precious enamel that protects your teeth. Removing this layer actually makes your teeth more vulnerable to decay and stains and also can make them more sensitive.

Alternatives to Natural Whitening

The best ways to naturally whiten your teeth are to practice healthy oral habits, such as brushing your teeth twice daily with an American Dental Association-approved whitening toothpaste, limiting your intake of dyed or pigmented foods likely to stain (coffee, tea, red wine) and regularly visiting Oakton Dental Center for cleanings.

There are also in-office teeth whitening procedures and at-home whitening products that, when used regularly and as directed, safely whiten the enamel without damaging it. The latter of these are available in retail stores with the ADA seal of approval that shows they are safe for teeth.

The most important part of your smile is not how white it is but how healthy. If you’re uncertain which teeth whitening procedure is best for you, call (703) 938-3405 to set up a consultation with your Oakton Dental Center dentist or schedule an appointment online.

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