Trends come and go in the dental world, and there seems to always be a flashy new product promising miraculous results. The latest so-called ‘miracle’ product is charcoal toothpaste and powders that promise to whiten teeth, remove stains and pull toxins out of your body.
Many of my clients have been asking me whether they should consider using charcoal toothpaste products, and I would tell my clients to avoid them for these five important reasons.
Charcoal toothpaste promises to whiten your teeth, and while it may have a limited effect, it achieves this through a mechanical process rather than via a chemical reaction. That means charcoal toothpaste uses abrasion to scrub away superficial stains on your teeth.
However, that abrasion also wears down the enamel on your teeth, which can cause increased sensitivity. And once that enamel is gone, it’s not coming back.
You get the impression that your teeth are whiter because the charcoal toothpaste has essentially scrapped off a layer of enamel.
That same abrasive action can also be bad for your gums. Frequent use of charcoal toothpaste can wear down your gums, which can lead to a huge range of dental problems. If it gets bad enough, you could even require a gum graft to replace the tissue that has been worn away.
Gum health is an often overlooked aspect of good dental hygiene, so anything that harms your gums should be strictly avoided.
Your mouth is full of delicate tissue and some people may have a negative reaction to the activated charcoal present in charcoal toothpaste and powders.
It’s best to avoid introducing unfamiliar and unnecessary substances, especially if you have any ulcers, cuts or abrasions in your mouth that could become irritated.
While charcoal toothpaste aims to whiten your teeth, it can actually have the opposite effect on crowns, bridges and veneers. The activated charcoal present in pastes and powders can discolour these materials and reverse all the work you’ve had done.
That’s a huge waste of the time you’ve spent in the chair, and the money you’ve spent on your smile.
There are currently no long-term scientific studies available on the effects of charcoal toothpaste. As a dentist, I would only ever recommend products that have been thoroughly tested in a clinical environment. While many medications do have side effects, it’s important that patients are fully aware of all possible side effects so they can weigh any potential risks against the rewards. Charcoal toothpaste is largely an unknown and is, therefore, a product I cannot recommend.
All things considered, there are many more effective ways to whiten your teeth than by using charcoal toothpaste. Your dentist can offer in-chair teeth whitening or at-home treatments that are safer and will get better, more consistent results than charcoal toothpaste.
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