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  • Writer's pictureUlrich Orthodontics

Charcoal Toothpaste: The Good, the Bad and the Unknown!

Charcoal toothpaste is all the rage. You can pretty much buy it anywhere, but is it safe? Is it effective? We have the answers:

The Good:

Charcoal is natural, and has been used throughout history as paste! The Romans would use tree bark and charcoal to brush their teeth. Charcoal toothpaste can remove surface stains, which is hard to do with many toothpastes on the market. Who doesn't love a quicker, whiter smile? It can even freshen breath! Two great benefits! But guess what? This is where the benefits stop. There are actually many reasons to either not use charcoal toothpaste, or use it only on occasion.

The Bad:

Charcoal toothpastes provide little to NO protection against tooth decay. In fact, charcoal can make some dental problems worse. If a tooth is dark due to trauma, weak enamel, certain medications or overuse of fluoride, using a toothpaste with charcoal can actually cause it to accumulate in cracks and crevices of teeth causing staining, not whitening. An individual may not know an issue exists until the charcoal highlights it. Without thorough rinsing after using, charcoal can move along to the digestive track and actually absorb medications, making them less effective. This is the main reason it is used in hospital settings for drug overdoses.

Charcoal toothpaste is abrasive. So much that it shouldn't be used on a daily basis, or frequently at all. The abrasiveness of this product can actually wear down enamel, and once worn down, teeth with actually stain far worse than before, and appear yellow. This will also cause teeth to be more sensitive and uncomfortable.

The Unknown:

Little is actually known about the benefits of using charcoal toothpaste. Long term usage and safety are also unknown. The American Dental Association (ADA) has not found charcoal toothpastes to be safe or effective. They have in fact issued warnings due to its abrasive nature. More research is needed on this type of product.

But if you MUST use a charcoal toothpaste...

Be sure to rinse your mouth and teeth thoroughly after using. Avoid using often in order to not damage your enamel. Talk with your dentist about the product you hope to use, don't purchase from a drug store or through a friend.

If you're still interested in a whiter smile....

There are many products that are considered safer alternatives to charcoal toothpastes. Whitening toothpastes may not work as quickly as one with charcoal, but they are deemed safer to use. There are also whitening strips, and in-office whitening procedures done through your general dentist. Ulrich Orthodontics also offers whitening trays to our patients and their families! Other simpler and slower options are brushing with baking soda or rinsing with hydrogen peroxide (be sure not to swallow peroxide).

We all love a healthy, bright smile! Just make sure you're achieving your results safely!

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