Beware Whitening Promise Of Charcoal Toothpastes

Girl brushing her teeth with charcoal toothpaste

ADA Cautions Popular Brightening Fad Can Be Dangerous To Teeth’s Health

Charcoal isn’t just for grilling anymore.

Today, the popular cooking mainstay of America’s backyard grills is being used as an ingredient for everything from drinks to skin care to hair care. Believe it or not, people coast to coast are turning to “natural” charcoal toothpastes to whiten their teeth. A brushing method first practiced by the ancient Romans has gained unexpected popularity in the 21st century.

“People have latched onto the seemingly paradoxical idea of applying charcoal for cleaner, brighter teeth,” Harper’s BAZAAR’s Lauren Hubbard and Alexandra Tunell write.

Who ever saw charcoal becoming a whitening friend of teeth?

“Activated charcoal toothpastes are a rebirth of ancient medicine techniques,” cosmetic dentist Peter Auster told HB. “In theory, (it) binds to everything in its path – stains, tartar, bacteria, viruses (and maybe even your tonsils).”

But is this unusual whitening technique too good to be true? And most importantly, is it safe?

“Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s safe,” Ada Cooper, DDS, a spokesperson for the American Dental Association, told POPSUGAR.

The ADA has performed extensive research on the safety and effectiveness of charcoal toothpaste. In 2017, the ADA published a review on all studies done on charcoal dental products and determined that there was no sufficient science to validate charcoal’s cosmetic or health benefits.

The biggest bummer of the ADA’s findings: Charcoal toothpastes can be hazardous to oral health.

“Charcoal toothpastes often contain a variety of ingredients, and the safety of those ingredients hasn’t been established,” Cooper said. “One ingredient is bentonite clay, a diverse mineral which can sometimes contain silica, a known human carcinogen.”

While charcoal toothpastes boast of their ability to whiten teeth, they may be damaging teeth’s surface while whitening them. Let’s face it: Charcoal isn’t known for its smooth texture and results. This is a substance that is raked over by fire during its day job, which is good evidence that it’s not a natural fit for a tooth’s enamel.

“Charcoal is recognized as an abrasive mineral to teeth and gums,” Cooper explained. “Using materials that are too abrasive can actually make your teeth look more yellow, because it can wear away the tooth’s enamel and expose the softer, yellower layer called dentin.”

Charcoal products also don’t utilize important tooth nutrient ingredients like fluoride, which helps reduce cavities.

The verdict on charcoal toothpastes: Check with your dentist before diving into one of today’s most popular dental care fads.

“Use your dentist as a resource for information when it comes to homeopathic products on the market,” Cooper advises. “Just because something is presumed to be ‘natural’ or ‘healthy’ doesn’t necessarily mean that it is.”

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