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More than ever, people are looking to improve their lives and their health through products that are all natural and chemical-free.  As a result, there are numerous organic and natural products on the market, from shampoo to toothpaste.

The latest oral health craze involves using activated charcoal to whiten teeth.  Proponents of this method claim that it is less costly and just as effective as visiting a dentist to whiten your teeth professionally.  But is this option best for your overall oral health?

How Teeth Whitening with Charcoal Began

Three years ago, a YouTube user Mama Natural posted a video explaining and using activated charcoal to whiten her teeth.  The video has now garnered more than 2 million views and 4,000 thumbs up.  Mama Natural is a mother who is seeking to use all-natural products in a quest to improve her family’s health and prevent them from coming into contact with harmful substances and chemicals.  While her intentions are certainly noble, she is not a dentist nor a medical professional, and she does not make any claims to be part of the medical profession.

Understanding Activated Charcoal Uses and Teeth Whitening

Activated charcoal does have many medicinal uses.  The most common use is to help with accidental poisonings.  It is typically manufactured from coal, wood, coconut shell and peat.  In some instances, it may be created from petroleum.  Activated charcoal is considered safe and non-toxic for short-term use.

Whitening your teeth with activated charcoal involves an activated charcoal supplement.  These supplements often come in capsule form. To use this product to whiten teeth, the activated charcoal must be removed from the capsule and placed onto a toothbrush.  Then you brush your teeth with the activated charcoal for several minutes, usually three to five.  Proponents of this teeth whitening method claim it instantly whitens teeth.

Unfortunately, if activated charcoal is accidentally ingested on a regular basis, it can interfere with any medications you may be taking because it absorbs the medicines.  It can also cause constipation, and in rare cases, it may block the intestinal tract.  This means that if you were to accidentally swallow the activated charcoal while brushing your teeth, you may experience unwanted side-effects.

Tooth Enamel Risks from Whitening with Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal powder is an abrasive material.  When you use it to whiten your teeth, the abrasiveness removes surface stains, which may make your teeth appear whiter.  Unfortunately, long-term use can lead to an erosion of the enamel, which can negatively affect your dental health, and lead to darker looking teeth instead of whiter teeth.  The enamel on your teeth helps protect your teeth against cavities and tooth decay.  Once the enamel is weakened or gone, it does not regrow.

Ask your Dentist First!

If you are looking to effectively and affordably remove stains and whiten your teeth without impacting your dental health, please consult your dentist first.  There are numerous over-the-counter and at-home treatments available that can whiten your teeth without damaging your enamel.

If you are simply looking to remove stains, a professional teeth cleaning and an ADA approved whitening toothpaste may be all you need. If you are looking to whiten your teeth by several shades, you may want to choose an in-office whitening procedure that can give you the results you desire.  If your teeth are severely stained, or the color of your teeth is due to having a thin enamel, you may want to consider veneers, which are adhered to your front teeth to improve their appearance.

Triangle Dentistry located in Raleigh, NC provides a state-of-the-art facility that offers exceptional general dental and specialty services guided by empathy of patient’s needs and desires. Services range from dental crowns and implants to veneers and whitening procedures. For further information, questions or to schedule an appointment, contact the office at (919) 747-3608.