Activated charcoal is now a special ingredient in many commercially-available products such as face wash, makeup, and now, even toothpaste as a way to naturally whiten teeth. But does it actually work to whiten your enamel or is it just a gimmick that can actually risk your health? Birmingham, AL dentist Dr. Bruce Spink and the American Dental Association have some news for those who are curious about the effectiveness of charcoal toothpaste.

Why Charcoal?

Charcoal is a porous black solid form of carbon that is created by burning wood or other organic material. Charcoal becomes “activated” when it’s burned again at an even higher temperature, which makes it sticky.

This sticky-ness of activated charcoal is why it’s commonly utilized in medicine to help absorb toxins in the stomach in cases of poisoning. But does it actually work to draw impurities out of your tooth enamel?

Should I Use Charcoal Toothpaste?

Unfortunately, the American Dental Association has found no evidence that charcoal toothpaste is effective for whitening teeth, and it may actually harm your teeth and gums.

Activated charcoal has an abrasive quality, which can damage and even remove the enamel from your teeth. This is what gets whitened when you use a whitening toothpaste, but using one with activated charcoal can actually remove enamel, revealing the dentin, a naturally-yellowish layer beneath that is also more sensitive and more vulnerable to tooth decay.

Modern toothpaste and toothbrushes are designed to gently polish the surfaces of the teeth, so you don’t want an abrasive substance on your toothbrush, scraping off precious enamel. 

Alternatives to Natural Whitening

The best ways to naturally whiten your teeth are by maintaining a healthy oral hygiene regimen. This includes brushing your teeth twice a day with an American Dental Association-approved whitening toothpaste, limiting intake of staining foods (e.g. coffee, red wine), and regularly visiting Dr. Spink or your area dentist.

There are also in-office teeth whitening procedures that safely whiten the enamel without damaging it. There are also bleaching products available in retail stores with the ADA seal of approval that are safe for teeth.

The most important part of your smile is its health. If you’re in the Birmingham, AL area and would like to discuss teeth whitening or any other dental concern, schedule an appointment online with Dr. Spink today or call us at 205.235.5043 to request a consultation.

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