These days we are seeing people raving about the use of charcoal toothpaste to clean their teeth, much like their ancestors did (ancient ones going waaaaay back). Currently a popular trend, charcoal toothpaste has a reputation for binding itself to bacteria, tartar, tooth stains and even viruses to keep your smile healthy. As a toothpaste, it uses activated charcoal in powder form combined with wood, coconut shells, or other natural ingredients that are heated and oxidized. Fun fact: being a type of carbon, hospitals use it to combat poison or a drug overdose in incoming patients.
Is Charcoal Safe?
You would think charcoal toothpaste is safe to use on your smile, but “Not so fast!” cautions our exceptional dentist, Dr. James Powell. He sees how charcoal toothpaste wears down tooth enamel and is skeptical about using it to brush your teeth with, especially every day. In fact, while activated charcoal is often now used in water filters, brushing your teeth with the paste actually hurts them. Technically, charcoal works by attracting yucky bacteria, plaque and food particles, and washing them away when you rinse your mouth out along with the charcoal toothpaste.
But the British Dental Journal, in a 2019 article, pointed out that charcoal doesn’t really give much protection against cavity-causing tooth decay. People with dental fillings are also vulnerable, because the charcoal powder gets into their dental fillings without getting back out, while also becoming stuck in the gum tissue, causing irritation and leading to gum inflammation and disease.
While many health-conscious people like using natural toothpaste (and there’s plenty out there including charcoal ones), unfortunately, they typically tend to be fluoride-free. This doubly puts your tooth enamel at a disadvantage when you take into consideration the abrasiveness of charcoal toothpaste combined with its lack of fluoride protection! Your best chance to maintain your oral health instead of using charcoal is using professional-grade Fluoride toothpaste.
What Charcoal Toothpaste Does to Your Tooth Enamel
While it can help fight bad breath and does remove some of the surface stains on your tooth enamel (because it’s abrasive and can somewhat absorb stains), it does not reduce stains under your tooth enamel and doesn’t, by itself, have a whitening effect on it. If you really want to get your teeth white again, you’ll need to address unsightly surface stains and the “intrinsic” stains that lie under your tooth’s enamel.
Essentially, if charcoal toothpaste is used on a daily basis, you’ll be actively wearing down your tooth enamel. This exposes the yellow dentin layer below, leaving you with painful tooth sensitivity (at the very least). Worn enamel makes your tooth vulnerable to decay and cavities, which can cost you later in root canals, fillings, crowns and even a potential tooth extraction followed by a dental restoration. In fact, charcoal toothpaste can increase your chances of tooth decay, mainly from the lack of fluoride and worn enamel. Seriously, the last thing you want to do is wear down your tooth enamel! Dr. Powell actually advises to avoid it altogether if you want to keep your teeth healthy, strong and cavity-free.
We also don’t yet know what effect charcoal toothpaste has on dental restorations themselves, including dental veneers, bridges, crowns and white composite fillings. We do know that charcoal deposits can build up since they’re attracted to everything, potentially leaving a black or gray effect on previous dental restorations.
Whitening Stained Teeth
If you’re looking to whiten your teeth, check out your supermarket’s tooth whitening products that are labeled with the American Dental Association, ADA seal of acceptance. This means they are safe and proven to be effective at what they claim to do. If you need a deeper, more professional teeth whitening treatment, Dr. Powell and our dental team offer Zoom!® Teeth Whitening and KöR® Whitening using cool dental lasers.
Natural Tooth Products
When it comes to using natural tooth cleaning products like hydrogen peroxide, baking soda or apple cider vinegar, you’ll want to check with Dr. Powell to make sure they are safe to use on your smile. And when it comes to charcoal toothpaste, Dr. Powell and our team recommend sticking to proven safer alternatives to maintain strong and healthy tooth enamel.
A Winning Strategy for a Healthy Smile
If you are looking to keep your smile in premium shape, we highly recommend upping your oral hygiene routine:
- Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste like Fluoridex.
- Use a powered toothbrush like Sonicare.
- Floss once a day with an oral irrigator like Hydrofloss.
- Keep all yearly dental cleanings and exams!
Healthy teeth are the foundation of a beautiful smile, so start the new year out right by scheduling your next dental cleaning and exam. Call (661) 349-7725 to schedule your visit at our dental office in Palmdale, CA or schedule your visit online today. We are here to help you reach all your smile goals!