Activated charcoal is now an ingredient in many commercially-available products such as face wash, makeup, and now, even toothpaste — with claims that it is a natural way to whiten teeth. Does charcoal toothpaste actually work or is it merely a gimmick that can actually risk your health? Charlotte NC dentist Dr. Richard Van Gurp and the American Dental Association have some advice for those who are curious about charcoal toothpaste.
Charcoal is a porous black solid form of carbon that is produced from burning wood or other organic material. Charcoal is considered “activated” when it is burned at an even higher temperature, causing it to be more effective at making things stick to it.
This stickiness of activated charcoal is why it is commonly used in internal medicine to help absorb toxins in the stomach. But does it actually work to draw out toxins anywhere else such as impurities from your tooth enamel?
Should I Use Charcoal Toothpaste?
The American Dental Association has not seen any evidence that charcoal toothpaste is effective or even safe. In fact, it may actually harm the teeth and gums.
Activated charcoal is abrasive and can remove the enamel or outer layer of your tooth. This layer is what you want whitened when you use a whitening toothpaste, but using charcoal can actually scrape away enamel and expose a more yellow layer of the tooth called dentin.
The toothpastes and toothbrushes of today are designed to gently clean the surfaces of teeth. You wouldn’t want something abrasive removing precious enamel. Removing enamel actually makes your teeth more vulnerable to decay and stains as well as making them more sensitive.
Alternatives to Natural Whitening
The best ways to naturally whiten your teeth are to develop healthy oral habits, such as brushing your teeth twice daily with an American Dental Association-approved whitening toothpaste, limiting intake of foods likely to stain (coffee, tea, red wine) and regularly visiting Dr. Van Gurp for cleanings.
There are also in-office teeth whitening procedures and at-home whitening products that safely whiten the enamel without damaging it. These latter are available in retail stores with the ADA seal of approval that are safe for teeth.
The most important part of your smile is not its’ whiteness but its’ health. If you’re unsure about which teeth whitening procedure is best for you, call 704.209.9606 to set up a consultation with Dr. Van Gurp or schedule an appointment online.