When you hear about natural alternatives for whitening your teeth, you are sure to learn about charcoal toothpaste. But hold up! As a dental hygienist, I want to inform you of the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to these products.
So, what is charcoal toothpaste? I will explain everything you need to know. Please read this before using. There are certain safety factors you need to be aware of and important side effects of this product to consider.
Charcoal toothpaste can have an important place in your arsenal of oral health products but you must be well-informed when choosing the right product.
How Do They Work?
A toothpaste that contains activated charcoal can help to remove surface stains on your teeth. The reason for this is due to its abrasiveness. It can also help to absorb surface stains to a certain degree. However, charcoal toothpastes have not shown significant evidence in their ability to remove stains below the surface of the enamel.
For this reason, charcoal toothpastes cannot be considered whitening toothpastes. In order for a toothpaste to be considered a whitening toothpaste, it needs to not only work on the outside surface stains but on those below the enamel as well.
Activated charcoal is the main ingredient in charcoal toothpastes. It is a fine black powder created from a mixture of bone char, peat, petroleum coke, coconut shells, coal, sawdust and olive pits.
It should not be confused with charcoal briquettes for grilling. These briquettes have not been “activated” and are considered toxic to humans.
What makes the charcoal activated is a process that heats the charcoal to a very high temperature. This process changes the internal structure of the charcoal by increasing its surface areas and reducing the size of its pores.
Activated charcoal works by trapping chemicals and toxins. There is a negative electrical charge created that works by attracting the positive charge of molecules from gases and toxins.
This has been shown to work in the gut and it is why it is used in cases of poisoning. Activated charcoal has been used for this purpose since the early 1800s. It has also been used to treat overdoses from prescription drugs such as acetaminophen, sedatives and aspirin.
There are many other uses for activated charcoal ranging from improving kidney function, gas reduction, cholesterol reduction and water filtration. However, there are no studies to support the claim of teeth whitening or improvement in oral hygiene.
Some May Cause More Harm Than Good
While using charcoal toothpaste may make your pearly whites appear whiter initially, some versions may make them appear more yellow in the long run.
The reason for this is that their abrasiveness will wear away the outer enamel over time. Once the enamel is worn away, you can never get it back. When it’s gone, it’s gone. This allows for the underlying tooth material called dentin to shine through.
If the outer enamel is worn thin you will see more dentin (a brownish-yellow colored material) and it will make your teeth appear darker. There are other reasons some charcoal toothpastes should be avoided. With a loss of enamel, you may have increased tooth sensitivity and be more susceptible to dental decay.
Not Accepted By the ADA
The American Dental Association has not given charcoal toothpastes the thumbs up. Learn what is said about charcoal toothpastes by the Journal of the American Dental Association.
It is recommended that dental professionals instruct their patients to be cautious when using charcoal-based toothpastes due to their unproven claims of efficacy and safety.
Results from this review showed insufficient laboratory and clinical data to establish conclusive evidence showing safety and effectiveness of charcoal-based toothpaste.
The Best Charcoal Toothpaste
If you decide you would like to try a charcoal toothpaste, I highly encourage you to purchase a product that will not be harsh or abrasive on your enamel. But how do you know which ones to choose and which ones to avoid? There is a tool used to determine the abrasiveness of these products.
This is a scale used for oral health care products used by dental professionals. This scale is called the RDA scale and it stands for Relative Dentin Abrasivity. When choosing a toothpaste product, you want a product with a low RDA score which means it is safe for everyday use and will not cause the enamel to wear away.
Although enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, it can still be worn away with daily use of an abrasive toothpaste. Once the enamel is worn away, it leaves the sensitive dentin exposed. This increases tooth sensitivity and puts you at greater risk for cavities. There is one product containing activated charcoal with a low RDA. It is Tom’s of Maine Peppermint Activated Charcoal Toothpaste.
This product is the gentlest charcoal toothpaste based on RDA testing among leading natural brands. You can use this product for twice daily brushing the same way you would use a non-charcoal toothpaste and it is considered safe on enamel for everyday use.
Tom’s of Maine Activated Charcoal Peppermint Toothpaste is the recommended choice of dental professionals for those patients seeking a less abrasive charcoal product. You can learn about additional benefits of using products from the Tom’s of Maine company in this video:
To understand more about the RDA of toothpastes I have included a quote from The American Dental Association (ADA): “To help quantify the abrasivity of dentifrices, the ADA along with various academic, industry and government agencies established a standardized scale called Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA). This scale assigns dentifrices an abrasivity value, relative to a standard reference abrasive that is arbitrarily given an RDA value of 100. All dentifrices at or below 2.5 times the reference value, or 250 RDA, are considered safe and effective. In fact, clinical evidence supports that lifetime use of proper brushing technique with a toothbrush and toothpaste at an RDA of 250 or less produces limited wear to dentin and virtually no wear to enamel. ADA (American Dental Association)”
There is also a very informative article from RDH (Registered Dental Hygienist) Magazine that explains the importance of the RDA scale when choosing a safe and effective toothpaste. Please read this article to further understand this concept.
Whitening Toothpastes (Your Best Options)
The reason most people use a charcoal toothpaste in the first place is usually to whiten teeth. While charcoal toothpaste will brighten your smile by removing surface stains, you must be careful as to use the right product that is not too abrasive.
As mentioned earlier, Tom’s of Maine Peppermint Activated Charcoal Toothpaste may be your best choice. If you are looking for an effective whitening toothpaste that does not contain charcoal, check out the five highest recommended products in this video:
1. Crest 3D Whitening Toothpaste– This toothpaste leaves your breath minty fresh and your teeth whiter and cleaner than ever. It features a whitening gel for a radiant smile making teeth dental cleaning fresh.
2. Tom’s of Maine Antiplaque and Whitening Toothpaste– Protects teeth with natural ingredients. Assures healthiness of teeth by using natural silicas to gently remove stains.
3. Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening Toothpaste– Prevents acid wear while effectively and gently removing surface stains. This product is especially benefcial for people with sensitive teeth.
4. Colgate Optic White Toothpaste– This toothpaste contains hydrogen peroxide which safely and gently whitens teeth and removes surface stains. Excellent flavor and smooth finish feeling post brushing. Colgate Optic White Toothpaste is a favorite for flavor and texture.
5. Opalescence Whitening Toothpaste– Performs very well at removing surface stains and keeping teeth clean. It contains natural ingredients and fluoride to help prevent cavities.
There are more options to consider when looking to whiten your teeth. Please refer to a related article on The Best Teeth Whitening Options- Dental Hygienist’s Top 3. Here you will learn about other options to safely and effectively whiten the shade of your teeth as recommended by dental professionals.
What Is Charcoal Toothpaste?-The Bottom Line
Charcoal toothpaste is the latest product to hit the shelves that is considered to be an alternative way to clean and whiten your teeth.If you choose to jump on the charcoal toothpaste band wagon, you are not alone. Many people are placing this product in their oral health care arsenals.
Choosing a product with low abrasiveness is the most important factor when deciding which one to use. I would encourage you to use Tom’s of Maine Peppermint Activated Charcoal Toothpaste versus other more abrasive charcoal toothpastes on the market.
However, if the main reason you are using a charcoal product is to whiten your teeth, then choosing one of the aforementioned whitening toothpastes in this article can be a safe and effective way to achieve your goals.
It is important to remember that our teeth are meant to last a lifetime. This means we need to make informed decisions when choosing which products to use to protect and maintain them. Thank you for reading and please feel free to leave me a question or comment below and I would be happy to help.
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