What a great smile! Your teeth are so white!
They are compliments we all want to hear. But the path to a brighter smile is leading some people to DIY treatments that we don’t recommend, including a growing trend: activated charcoal.
WHAT IS ACTIVATED CHARCOAL?
Don’t get it confused with the charcoal you use to grill! Activated charcoal is also, referred to as activated carbon. It’s comprised of substances such as wood, coal, coconut shell or bamboo. People often use activated charcoal to reduce the effects of food poisoning or even treat intestinal gas. It’s odorless, tasteless and black in color. When used for teeth, people brush the charcoal in their mouth with a little water. The charcoal comes in the form of powder or a pill.
IS IT SAFE?
Activated charcoal isn’t toxic but dentists say it may cause damage to your teeth. According to the American Dental Association, charcoal is an abrasive, and so it doesn’t turn your teeth white, but it can actually make your teeth appear more yellow. The part of the teeth you are trying to whiten is the enamel. But if you’re scrubbing too hard, you will wear away the enamel and possibly, expose the yellow tissue in your teeth, called dentin. Remember, if the enamel is damaged, your teeth are at risk for decay, sensitivity or cavities. This can also, cause discoloration of your gums.
“Patient’s don’t realize that once your enamel is gone, it’s gone. It’s one of the toughest tissues in our body but our body doesn’t replace it once it’s worn away. Why open the possibility of permanent damage? The disadvantages of this trend aren’t worth the long-term consequences,” said Dr. Jason Kboudi, Advanced Smile Care.
WHAT ARE THE BEST WHITENING OPTIONS OR PRODUCTS?
Some bloggers who tried activated charcoal say the treatment made their teeth brighter while others say they noticed no changes. According to the ADA, there is no proof that charcoal is completely safe or effective to whiten your teeth. The ADA says the best, natural way to whiten teeth is to brush twice a day using a whitening toothpaste with the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Also, floss and limit foods that stain your teeth (coffee, wine, candy and soda).
If you’re interested in a brighter smile and getting your teeth whiter, Dr. Kboudi recommends that you let a dentist help you achieve your goals.
“It’s as easy as making bleaching trays that you can wear for an hour a day for a couple of weeks. They’re form fitting trays. The over-the-counter stuff can work to a limited degree. They’re limited on how much concentration or how powerful the bleach is. They’re limited because they’re not customized. You put them on your teeth but they’re not fitted to your teeth,” said Dr. Kboudi.