Are Charcoal Toothpastes Safe for Your Teeth?

Dr. Kyle Hornby

I am a Dentist in Kitchener, ON and each week I like to explore a question that I commonly get at my Family Dental office. This week, I'd like to discuss the safety of charcoal activated toothpaste.

In the last 4-5 years, there has been a rise in popularity or natural or "home remedy" methods for tooth whitening. I have met many patients who were scrubbing their teeth with baking soda, activated charcoal and other abrasive products. When we buy-in on a product, we have to separate fact from fiction in determining what's going to work and what will be safe for us.

So, today I want to give you a quick breakdown of charcoal-containing products. Do they work? Are the safe?

Activated Charcoal & Charcoal-Based Toothpastes

Charcoal-based whitening products work on the basis of abrasiveness. They are highly abrasive, and therefore, they should be quicker and more effective for removing stains from teeth. This is the rationale provided by the makers of these products.

The concern with charcoal toothpastes is that they wear down tooth enamel over time. They may remove stains from teeth effectively but at what cost? Well, your enamel is the most decay-resistant layer of your teeth. Enamel is also the brightest, whitest layer of your teeth. It's "prime real estate" inside your mouth. Wear it down, and you gradually uncover the yellow dentin underneath.

Most tooth-whitening enthusiasts want to avoid yellow teeth.

A great article on natural tooth whiteners and their safety is provided by the American Dental Association here.

Can Baking Soda Whiten your Teeth?

Some people use baking soda and natural fruit acids in an attempt to whiten their teeth. Much like charcoal products, baking soda works to remove tooth stains on the basis of its abrasiveness. But, it's too abrasive. And the fruit acids are caustic for your tooth enamel. Don't get me wrong, you should consume fruits as part of a healthy, vitamin-rich diet. However, you are best to avoid scrubbing your teeth with these acids or a slurry containing these acids along with baking soda.

We want to be careful not to wear down our beautiful bright enamel!

What products are safe for Tooth Whitening?

Tooth whitening products with the American Dental Association can be found here. Look for tooth-whitening toothpastes with the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) or American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval. Additionally, simple practices like brushing your teeth 2-3 times per day, flossing daily and avoiding or minimizing foods that stain your teeth will help! Coffee, tea, red wine and cigarette smoke are all enemies if you are pursuing your brightest, whitest smile. Lastly, ask your Kitchener-Waterloo Dentist about medical-grade in-office and at-home whitening products.

Thanks for reading today. Send us an e-mail at info@enamelrepublic.com if you have any questions!

By Dr. Kyle Hornby, Kitchener-Waterloo Dentist

If you would like to arrange a No-Charge Meet & Greet consult with me, give us a call at (519) 576-8160 or request a consult here.

Our Kitchener Dental Clinic is conveniently located in Downtown Kitchener and we are a short drive away for families in Waterloo, Breslau & St. Jacobs. Our central location means we truly offer family dentistry near you!

This article is meant to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Accordingly, always seek the advice of your Kitchener Dentist or other healthcare provider regarding a dental condition or treatment.

Enjoy a fresh start.
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