Is Charcoal Toothpaste Safe?
Activated charcoal is everywhere these days, even in toothpaste.
If you listen to bloggers and other influencers on the internet, they’ll tell you that activated charcoal is said to be a good natural alternative to peroxide for whitening the teeth. The black powder is thought to absorb and remove stains caused by foods like red wine, coffee, and tea.
But does it work?
The buzzy ingredient, which is typically made from either bone char, coconut shells, peat, petroleum coke, coal, olive pits or sawdust, is known for its abilities to absorb dirt and impurities. It’s kind of like a magnet that attracts toxins, which is why it’s used in water filtration systems and to treat drug overdoses and food poisoning. So that would also work for your teeth, right?
Well, not so fast.
What to consider before you try charcoal toothpaste
Activated charcoal can have many health benefits due to its ability to remove harmful toxins from the body, but individuals should consider a few things before they try using charcoal to whiten their teeth.
First, if you do use it, you should make sure the powder is extra fine, so it’s not too harsh on your teeth. Second, you should definitely not use it daily. Once a month, if you must, would be sufficient because of its abrasiveness.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, everyone should speak to their dentist prior to using any activated charcoal products, as everyone’s mouth is different, so instructions should be tailored for each patient.
The potential negative effects
Using activated charcoal to whiten your teeth can potentially cause more harm than good.
There has not been a single study done that shows that using charcoal products for oral health care does anything good for your teeth at all.
The abrasiveness of the charcoal can actually have the reverse effect on people’s teeth.
If activated charcoal is used too often or incorrectly, the enamel can erode. Once you remove enamel, it doesn’t come back.
While using something abrasive like charcoal to scrub surface stains away may make teeth look whiter in the short term, they may eventually look yellower because you’re thinning the enamel and showing more of the inner dentin, which is darker.
The potentially harmful effects of activated charcoal don’t stop at the enamel. A loss of enamel can lead to increased sensitivity and increased susceptibility to dental decay.
Charcoal toothpaste hasn’t been given a thumbs up by the American Dental Association
If that’s not enough to make you wary about scrubbing your teeth with activated charcoal, it’s important to note that the American Dental Association hasn’t given charcoal its Seal of Acceptance.
There are insufficient clinical and laboratory data to substantiate the safety and efficacy claims of charcoal and charcoal-based dentifrices. More studies need to be done to prove whether charcoal is really safe for oral care.
Patients looking for whiter teeth should use non-whitening basic fluoride toothpaste, with cavity protection, and then use something as simple as whitening strips, if they want to do it on a budget, or go to their dentist and have home trays made to use bleaching material, or have in-office whitening done.
Peroxide-based whitening products (like white strips and dentist-provided products) have been proven to work really well, to be relatively inexpensive and to be very safe. There’s been long-term studies done with peroxide, and we know it’s safe and we know that it works.
The best way to remove deep-seated yellowing of the teeth is with professional whitening. In-office whitening usually takes about an hour to an hour and a half and provides immediate results, while at-home whitening is usually done over a period of one or two weeks.
When it comes to trying out fads, whether it be activated charcoal or even rubbing strawberries on your teeth, be advised that they might not work, or worse, might damage the structure of your teeth.
Non-charcoal whitening toothpaste, while they generally work because they’re somewhat abrasive (like charcoal), the product probably isn’t in contact with teeth long enough for the active ingredient to do anything drastic.
If you are looking to whiten your teeth, the best thing to do is talk to your dentist about the best method for you. And when you’re looking for products to take care of your mouth at home, look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
Have more questions about whitening or safe toothpaste options to use at home? Give us a call, 832 830-8226.
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