Recent health and beauty trends have supported the detoxifying “super powers” of charcoal for everything from face wash to deodorant and, yes, even toothpaste.
Touting to give you a whiter, brighter smile, charcoal toothpastes and tooth powders have taken social media by storm. A quick internet search will pull thousands of images and videos of people scrubbing the black powder into their teeth in hopes of achieving the pearliest of whites.
Currently, there is no strong, scientific evidence proving the safety or efficacy of activated charcoal tooth products in whitening tooth enamel. So, at this point, it’s difficult to discern just how safe it is to brush your teeth with any products containing charcoal.
One thing to consider is the abrasiveness of charcoal on tooth enamel.
There are three main layers to the tooth structure. The outermost is the strong enamel layer. This is the part of the tooth that protects the sensitive inner layers and is also the portion that appears white. The second layer is called dentin. Dentin is softer than enamel and more sensitive. It is also darker and more yellow in color. The innermost portion of the tooth is called the pulp. The pulp is the most sensitive part of the tooth and is the softest. The blood vessels and nerve of the tooth, that keep it vital, reside within the pulp.
As a cosmetic office, we are careful to recommend tooth cleaning products that are gentle on tooth enamel — that means no abrasive products! We want to keep the enamel layer as strong and intact as possible.
Many charcoal toothpastes available on the market are quite harsh and abrasive. Over time this can actually wear away the enamel, causing it to become more transparent and allowing the darker dentin layer to show through. Hardly a situation anyone wants to create, especially if you’re looking to whiten your teeth!
All that being said, it is hard to ignore the claims of people stating that charcoal toothpaste is giving them bright, gleaming smiles.
A word of caution: The Journal of the American Dental Association published a literature review on the topic stating that due to the lack of large studies, oral charcoal products can not be concluded to be safe or effective at this point. Large scale research is required to confirm the benefits, if any, of using activated charcoal on your teeth.
Until then, we only advise the use of proven, safe measures for cleansing and or whitening your teeth. Consult your dental health care provider to find out the best and safest in-office and take-home whitening options for your smile. We stay up to date on all the latest whitening products and will be happy to help you make the best decision for the smile of your dreams!
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions. Ashley Little is a Dental Hygienist living in Connecticut. She has been helping Advanced Dental clients smile confidently since 2012. She can be reached by email at Ashley@AdvancedDental.com. More information about Advanced Dental can be found at AdvancedDental.com.