Charcoal toothpaste is being touted as the latest tooth whitening alternative, but does it really make a difference? Dr. Holly Scott-Hetchler, your Lansing, MI, dentist, answers a few questions about the effectiveness and safety of the toothpaste.
What is activated charcoal?
Activated charcoal may look like the stuff you use for backyard barbecues, but it's not quite the same. It's created when wood, peat, coal or petroleum charcoal is heated at high temperatures to prevent toxins from being absorbed by your body. Activated charcoal toothpaste is available in health food stores and online. Some people prefer to skip the paste and just sprinkle a little activated charcoal powder on their toothbrushes.
Why are people using charcoal toothpaste to brush their teeth?
Activated charcoal offers a natural way to whiten teeth. Stains are removed when the charcoal binds with surface stains on your teeth caused by plaque, coffee, tea and other foods and beverages. If discolorations aren't caused by surface stains, the powder or toothpaste will have no effect.
Is activated charcoal safe and effective?
Charcoal toothpaste can improve the appearance of your teeth somewhat because of its ability to remove surface stains, but the improvement in your smile may come at a price. The charcoal may irritate your teeth and gums, plus there are also concerns that it might erode your enamel. Once the enamel is worn down, your teeth will actually look yellower because the underlying dentin layer has been exposed. Reduce your risk of enamel erosion by using the toothpaste no more than once per week.
Because activated charcoal hasn't undergone testing by the American Dental Association yet, we don't have any information about possible long-term effects. If you want a whiter smile but don't want to risk damaging your teeth, professional teeth whitening is a better option. Your Lansing dentist uses strong, yet safe, whitening agents that produce impressive results without harming your enamel. In fact, most people experience a three to eight shade difference after whitening. Professional whitening can be done at your dentist's office, or you can use custom-made whitening trays at home if you prefer.
Your dentist can help you decide if charcoal toothpaste or other whitening options are the better choice for you. Call Dr. Scott-Hetchler, your Lansing, MI, dentist, at (517) 487-6333 to schedule your appointment.