In the world of hygiene and cosmetic products, manufacturers are always looking for a new featured ingredient to set their product apart in the eyes of consumers. Activated charcoal is now a featured ingredient in many retail products such as face wash, makeup, and even toothpaste, where it is billed as a natural whitener for teeth.
But does activated charcoal really work to whiten your teeth or is it just a gimmick that can actually put your dental health at risk? Annapolis, MD dentist Dr. Vernon Sheen and the American Dental Association would like to educate you about charcoal toothpaste so that you can make an informed choice.
Why use Charcoal?
Charcoal is a porous black solid form of carbon that is created by burning wood or other organic material. Charcoal is considered to be “activated” after it’s been burned at an even higher temperature, which makes it particles stick to it.
This quality of activated charcoal is why it has long been used in medicine to absorb toxins in the stomach for incidents of poisoning or overdose. But does it actually draw out stains from enamel as it does toxins in your stomach?
Should I Use Charcoal Toothpaste?
The American Dental Association has not found that charcoal toothpaste is at all effective at whitening teeth and may actually harm the teeth and gums.
Activated charcoal has a gritty texture which can damage or even remove your enamel — the hard outer layer of your tooth. The enamel is the layer that you are trying to whiten when you use a whitening toothpaste, but using a charcoal-based toothpaste can damage enamel and expose the yellowish layer underneath — dentin.
Modern toothpaste and toothbrushes are designed to gently polish the surface of the teeth, and you don’t want something abrasive scratching your enamel. Furthermore, the dentin, in addition to already having a yellowish cast, stains even more easily than enamel does.
Alternatives to Natural Whitening
The best ways to naturally whiten your teeth are by practicing healthy oral care habits, such as brushing your teeth twice a day with an American Dental Association-approved whitening toothpaste, limiting your consumption of highly-pigmented or dyed foods like coffee and red wine, and regularly visiting Dr. Sheen.
There are also professional in-office teeth whitening procedures that can safely whiten the enamel without damaging it, as well as bleaching products available in retail stores. Both are ADA-approved to be safe for teeth.
The most important part of your smile is not how white it is but how healthy. If you’re not sure about which teeth whitening procedure is best for you, schedule an appointment online with Dr. Sheen or call our Annapolis office at (443) 482- 5202 today.