May 20, 2019
Have you seen those videos on social media of people using activated charcoal to try and whiten their teeth? Plenty of online articles will claim it’s a proven method for improving your smile, but is that the full story? Using “natural” methods of whitening such as charcoal may sound appealing, but those who endorse such treatments often leave out important details. Here’s what you need to know about charcoal and how it compares to professional teeth whitening and other methods.
Does Charcoal Whitening Work?
Activated charcoal is very porous; it’s often used medically to treat poison by absorbing and removing toxins from the body. With charcoal teeth whitening, the idea is that the charcoal joins with bacteria and staining molecules on your teeth before being rinsed away and taking the harmful substances with it.
However, the American Dental Association has yet to find enough evidence to say that using charcoal on your teeth is safe and effective. There is, however, a concern that charcoal-based whitening products may damage your teeth. This is because they tend to be highly abrasive, meaning they wear down the outer enamel. Not only is this harmful for the tooth overall, but it can also cause the dentin under the enamel to become more visible, meaning your teeth would actually appear yellower over time.
How is Professional Whitening More Beneficial than Charcoal Whitening?
A professional treatment will have been tested for effectiveness and will be less likely to damage the tooth. In-office whitening will involve an approved bleaching solution that gets into the teeth to remove stain molecules that charcoal wouldn’t be able to reach. This treatment can give results over the course of a single visit.
As an alternative, your dentist would be able to provide an at-home whitening kit for a more gradual change. The kit would contain professional bleaching products and custom-fitted trays to be worn for a certain length of time. Again, unlike charcoal, this method is safer and has more scientific backing.
What About Other Methods?
There are other do-it-yourself whitening methods besides charcoal. Acidic fruits such as oranges are sometimes mixed with baking soda and smeared on the teeth to remove stains, but while many such foods are fine when eaten normally, letting citric acid sit on your teeth can damage the enamel. Some people say swishing coconut oil and spices like turmeric in your mouth can whiten teeth, but there’s no reliable data to support it.
If you’ve been looking to brighten your smile, it’s best to speak with your dentist before trying a given treatment. Don’t trust rumors on the internet for advice; an opinion from a professional can help steer you towards more reliable methods, such as professional whitening. And don’t forget: good oral hygiene can make a difference in tooth coloration, so keep brushing and flossing every day!
About the Practice
At Columbian Square Dental, Drs. William Olafson and Jacinthe Giroux combine their experience and training to provide families with excellent preventive, cosmetic, and restorative dental treatment. They offer the Zoom! treatment and at-home whitening kits to help patients with discolored teeth. To schedule an appointment, visit their website or call (781) 337-6644.
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