Please Don’t Try to Whiten Your Teeth with Charcoal

Many conversations are occurring on the internet about tooth whitening. Some offer good advice. But some are pushing ideas that are simply harmful in some way. Before you try some method that you find online check with your dentist. Be certain that what you are planning to try will not damage your teeth.

A case in point is the current trend that suggests the use of charcoal to whiten your teeth. Please don’t try this. Duringcharcoal toothpasts - paid -shutterstock 1017408808 the last two years people have been discovering new ways to use activated charcoal for their health and beauty needs. One such use is cleaning skin with charcoal, which absorbs the oils and stains. The thinking seems to be that if charcoal works so well for the skin, it should also work for teeth, making them whiter.

Charcoal is “wood that has been placed inside a low oxygen environment like a steel or clay box and heated to over 1000 degrees F.” The lack of oxygen ensures that the wood cannot be lit nor can it burn. The heating process removes water, tar, gasses, and other elements in the wood through melting or evaporation. What remains at the end of the process is pure carbon and ash. Brushing with charcoal means that you are rubbing a very hard substance against your delicate teeth.

While most toothpaste contains abrasive elements that clean your teeth, these elements are significantly less damaging that charcoal. In fact, the abrasiveness of the charcoal can actually damage your teeth by eroding the enamel on your teeth. What immediately appears to be whiter teeth will fade over time, making the teeth appear yellow. When charcoal is used incorrectly or too often, it erodes the enamel. When the enamel is eroded, what becomes visible is the underlying dentin.

The effect of a long-term use of charcoal to brush your tooth to whiteness is actually harmful to your teeth. What people do not seem to understand is that damage to tooth enamel is permanent. When you remove the enamel, you cannot replace it.

We recommend oral hygiene products that have earned the Seal of Acceptance from the American Dental Association (ADA). This seal has not been given to charcoal. In fact, the ADA included this statement in an article in its journal last year: There is “insufficient clinical and laboratory data to substantiate the safety and efficacy claims of charcoal and charcoal-based dentifrices.”

Before risking permanent damage to your teeth and gums, always use products that pass two tests: the seal of the ADA and the recommendation of your dentist.