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You may have noticed the addition to the toothpaste aisle of numerous options with charcoal added. Are these types of toothpaste safe for your teeth? Do they really work as they claim to whiten and brighten your smile? Is charcoal toothpaste safe to use? Get the low down on charcoal toothpaste to find out if it is a good option for getting a healthy, white smile.
What Is Charcoal Toothpaste?
Charcoal toothpaste combines regular toothpaste, which may or may not have fluoride, with activated charcoal. While the additive shares its name with charcoal used for grilling, the two products are not interchangeable. Activated charcoal undergoes heat treatment to increase its porosity. The extra porous nature of activated charcoal makes it an effective emergency medicine to take internally in some cases of accidental poisoning. (Never take activated charcoal or anything else after a poisoning without contacting an emergency room or poison hotline first.)
By adding activated charcoal to toothpaste, makers suggest that the now black toothpaste will help to whiten your teeth without silica or peroxides used in other whitening toothpaste.
What Charcoal Toothpaste Makers Claim It Does
Charcoal toothpaste has many reasons for its popularity, stemming from the claims made by manufacturers. However, in many cases, the toothpaste does not live up to its makers’ assertions of safety or effectiveness.
Many producers of charcoal toothpaste use charcoal’s natural origin as a selling point. This natural toothpaste with charcoal provides an alternative to standard whitening types of toothpaste. But natural does not always mean better. Some brands even offer charcoal toothpaste without fluoride for those concerned about fluoride additives. These types of toothpaste that lack fluoride do not provide the cavity protection that fluoride toothpaste has. Therefore, they are not recommended for use by most dentists.
Charcoal toothpaste makers also claim that their products whiten teeth. These brands use the abrasive nature of the charcoal to brush away surface stains. However, these types of toothpaste will not affect stains that originate inside the teeth, also known as intrinsic stains or very dark external discoloration.
Some makers also claim that their charcoal toothpaste will offer some or all of the following benefits:
The above claims have no evidence backing them. Use caution when shopping for toothpaste and avoid products that have unsubstantiated claims. Here’s a hint, look for the American Dental Association seal of approval on toothpaste to find a type that has proven effectiveness and ingredients that work.
Don’t look only at the label of the toothpaste for what the manufacturer claims the product will do. Charcoal toothpaste does not have enough evidence to back it to be a trusted alternative to other whitening products.
Is Charcoal Toothpaste Safe?
So, is charcoal toothpaste safe and effective? A literature review published in the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) found no scientific evidence to support the notion that toothpaste containing charcoal was safe or effective.
In fact, charcoal-containing toothpaste can cause more harm than good. According to the American Dental Association, abrasive products, such as charcoal and charcoal-containing toothpaste, can damage the enamel by physically rubbing it off. Over time, this wears away the enamel, exposing the darker dentin underneath. Enamel will never regrow, and teeth without the protective layer of enamel become more sensitive.
While charcoal toothpaste claims to whiten your teeth, it will actually make them more yellow over time by permanently altering the health of your teeth. Skip the charcoal toothpaste and use a simple fluoride-based dentifrice instead that has the seal of approval from the American Dental Association to ensure that you have a safe and effective product. Thus far, no charcoal kinds of toothpaste bear this seal.
Finally, charcoal toothpaste has a black hue due to the charcoal used in it. This coloring can deposit on dental restorations, such as crowns or bridges, causing even more staining in the mouth instead of whitening.
Are There Safer Alternatives to Charcoal Toothpaste?
If you need whitening of your teeth, you have safer, more effective alternatives to using charcoal toothpaste. Don’t damage your teeth with charcoal toothpaste. If you have stained or darkened teeth, talk to your dentist about other options for charcoal-based products. You’ll get better results and preserve your tooth enamel. The following methods give you better whitening without the harsh abrasives of charcoal.
Professional Teeth Whitening
A safe alternative to charcoal toothpaste if you want to brighten your smile is professional teeth whitening. Over-the-counter (OTC) whitening toothpaste usually only removes surface stains. Whitening kits and gels don’t have enough of the active ingredient to be as effective as the options you get from the dentist. Furthermore, over-the-counter whitening products can cause sensitivity and gum irritation if not used exactly as prescribed.
With the supervision of a dentist, professional whitening reduces the chances of gum irritation and tooth sensitivity after the procedure. Plus, when you get your whitening from a dentist, you have access to the strongest whitening products available. You’ll get faster, brighter results from your dentist than you can get from any type of whitening toothpaste.
Prevent Teeth Stains
Another way to preserve the color of your teeth, especially between whitening treatments, is by avoiding the common causes of teeth stains, including coffee, soda, wine, berries, and tea. Simple brushing and flossing can remove minor stains from your teeth, and you don’t need an abrasive toothpaste to achieve results.
Additionally, if you consume staining foods or drinks, rinse out your mouth with water after you eat. By rinsing, you reduce the time the staining ingredients stay in your mouth and have contact with your teeth. Preventing stains keeps you from needing frequent whitening procedures and preserves your smile long after you get your teeth whitened.
Combine Your Brushing Habits with Regular Dental Cleanings from Langley Dental Care
If you want brighter teeth, skip the charcoal toothpaste. Good brushing habits combined with professional cleanings can gently remove many surface stains. If you still want whiter teeth, consider whitening from a dentist for the fastest, strongest results. Whether you need dental cleanings or whitening, call our office to schedule your visit to Langley Dental Care. Our team can help you have white teeth and a healthy smile safely.