If you have perused Instagram lately, you’ll no doubt have spotted your favourite ‘grammers covered in a dark peel-off face mask (beauty, not Covid) or indulging in an ice-cream or smoothie with a dark dust makeover. Activated charcoal is the latest health trend that has taken the internet and wellness industry by storm and can even be found in lip balms, deodorants and of course, toothpastes.

Does it actually whiten teeth?

As charcoal toothpaste can trap particles, it is said that it can absorb and remove stains like those from tea, coffee and wine. This reduction in staining may give your teeth the appearance of being whiter, however charcoal has no proven natural whitening effect. Bleaching treatments alone are the only agents to be able to majorly change the colour of teeth, as it can penetrate below the enamel, unlike charcoal.  

In fact, it can actually increase staining as the dark substance can get into the cracks and crevices in your mouth and leave dark stains. As the long-term effects are still not yet known, we are still unsure how charcoal affects materials that make up veneers, crowns, bridges and white fillings.

Are charcoal toothpastes safe? 

Research from the British Dental Journal states that using charcoal toothpastes increases the risk of abrasions, which can contribute to tooth decay. No teeth whitening products containing charcoal have been approved by the British Dental Association. In addition to not being able to whiten your teeth, most charcoal toothpastes don’t contain fluoride, which is vital for our oral health, as it helps to harden enamel and fight against dental cavities. 

Because of the abrasive nature of the charcoal, long term use will wear down your enamel and over time this will reveal the underlying dentine, which is yellow in colour. Therefore, prolonged use may leave your teeth more sensitive and more yellow in colour. Plus, the mess it causes in the bathroom is reason alone to not buy into the fad! 

How can I safely whiten my teeth?

The safest, most effective way to ensure a whiter smile is to have the treatment carried out by a dental professional. Only dental professionals are licensed to prescribe the strength of whitening gel that is needed for effective tooth whitening. 

Similarly, home whitening kits bought off of the Internet may seem like the easiest and most cost-effective option. However, legally they can only contain up to 0.1% hydrogen peroxide, so they’re not going to dramatically change the shade of your teeth. 

The bottom line 

Although charcoal toothpaste is getting a lot of attention and press, it’s not more effective than other toothpastes and at-home whitening products on the market. It may help remove surface stains, but the long-term use of this product is still unknown due to limited studies. It can do more damage than good, so it’s best to avoid!  

Speak to us at your next appointment and we can advise you to the best whitening option for your smile. 

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