Health fads are nothing new, but oral health products tend to be immune from new trend hype, likely because good oral health is pretty simple: brush and floss daily, and get twice-yearly dental exams. However, charcoal’s recent hype as the newest big thing in wellness and cosmetics has infiltrated the world of dental care, with an explosion of charcoal-based products that claim to whiten teeth “naturally.”
You’ll probably see several different brands of charcoal toothpaste in stores, with bold claims on the packages promising a brilliant white smile. Before trying any new health trend, it’s a good idea to research such claims. In the spirit of informed consumerism, here’s what you should know about charcoal toothpaste.
What is charcoal toothpaste?
Charcoal toothpaste looks exactly like you think it would—deep black and grainy. It’s made with activated charcoal, which is a fine grain powder comprised of wood bits, peat, coconut shells, and other carbon-based natural materials that are slowly oxidized under extreme heat. The process causes the material to become porous, and its ability to effectively absorb and trap toxic chemicals makes it a reasonable standard treatment for accidental poisonings. Charcoal toothpaste has activated charcoal incorporated into the paste.
Does charcoal toothpaste work?
Charcoal toothpaste boasts that charcoal’s extraordinary absorption powers can tackle stains, but the claim is only half true. Activated charcoal is mildly abrasive, which means it can remove and absorb some surface stains on your teeth. But for any tooth-whitening product to work effectively, it needs to work below the enamel as well, and there is no evidence that activated charcoal has any effect beyond surface stains.
Is charcoal toothpaste safe?
Activated charcoal is technically non-toxic, so it’s safe in a general sense, but it’s not entirely safe for the health of your teeth. Because charcoal toothpaste is abrasive, using it on a daily basis will wear down the enamel in your teeth, exposing dentin, the yellow-colored calcified tissue beneath, which negates the whole purpose of using a tooth-whitening product. Additionally, charcoal toothpaste can even stain your teeth if charcoal particles accumulate in the cracks and crevices.
Is charcoal toothpaste bad for your teeth?
Used daily, charcoal toothpaste can damage your teeth, wearing down enamel and resulting in increased tooth sensitivity. Also, most charcoal toothpaste brands do not contain fluoride, which strengthens teeths and helps prevent cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. Charcoal toothpaste can have a negative effect on dental restorations including crowns, bridges, veneers, and white fillings—as with the crevices of your teeth, charcoal particles can accumulate in and around restorations, leaving an unattractive black or gray outline.
Can you use charcoal toothpaste with braces?
The risks of using charcoal toothpaste are no different with or without braces, but you should be cautious about using any tooth whitening product with braces. The part of your teeth hidden by the metal brackets will be unaffected by the whitening product, leaving you with discolored squares once the brackets are removed. If you want your new straight smile to be brilliant and white, wait until after the braces come off to use whiteners.
What are better options for teeth whitening?
Tried-and-true teeth whitening methods sustain popularity, despite the emergence of fads, for good reason: they actually work! Tooth whitening products that are ADA approved and contain blue covarine, hydrogen peroxide, and microbeads are the most effective according to many studies. Options include:
- Standard whitening toothpastes: great at removing surface stains without being dangerously abrasive
- Whitening strips: tackle both surface and below-the-surface stains.
- In-office whitening programs or dentist-supervised at-home whitening methods: the most effective whitening options with long-term results
The best whitening toothpastes include fluoride to keep your teeth and gums healthy, and some even feature gum-detoxifying ingredients that neutralize gingivitis and plaque around the gum line.
Healthy dental habits are important, too!
Your oral hygiene routine and the foods you eat can have a significant impact on the color of your teeth. Whether you hope to keep your teeth white naturally or you want to make the most of a recent teeth-whitening procedure, practicing healthy habits every day will go a long way toward keeping your pearly whites nice and bright. Be sure to:
- Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes
- Use a whitening toothpaste with the ADA Seal of Acceptance
- Clean between your teeth once a day
- Limit foods that stain your teeth, like coffee, tea and red wine
- Avoid using tobacco including smoking and vaping
- Visit your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings
Not only will these habits optimize the appearance of your smile, but they’ll also help prevent cavities, gum disease, bad breath, and other oral health complications.
Keeping your teeth and gums bright and healthy at San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry
So does charcoal toothpaste whiten teeth? Sadly, the answer is not really, and it can do more harm than good. To keep your teeth bright and white, use ADA approved teeth whitening products, and to keep your whole mouth healthy, be sure to brush and floss daily and see your dentist regularly. It’s also important to seek out a dental specialist for advanced dental issues, so if you have any questions about periodontal services or implants, give San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry a call at (619) 543-0905.