You may have recently seen popular YouTubers and DIY “health experts” demonstrating the amazing tooth whitening power of activated charcoal. The instructions are simple: place activated charcoal on a toothbrush and brush in small circles before rinsing. It works, too. In some instances, teeth can become visibly whiter after just one treatment.
Here’s the rub: activated charcoal is not actually safe for your teeth. In fact, it’s downright unsafe.
What’s Wrong with Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal is abrasive, like a fine sand. Can you imagine putting sand on your teeth in hopes of removing stains? It would work - for a time - by polishing enamel and exfoliating some of your topical stains. After a while, however, the damage done to enamel wouldn't be worth it. Such is the case with activated charcoal: the amount of enamel it is capable of removing with regular use can swiftly create an oral health nightmare that really isn’t worth the mild tooth whitening it offers.
These may include:
- Exposed dentin
- Heightened tooth sensitivity
- Irreversible enamel damage
Damaged enamel and exposed dentin will make your teeth look yellow. This yellowing is not treatable with topical whiteners. When dentin is exposed, only advanced cosmetic treatments like porcelain veneers or dental crowns will be effective at changing their color. In other words, those results gained through the use of activated charcoal are temporary at best. The damage being done underneath will eventually become apparent. And that damage is going to make getting a white smile much more expensive and involved.
Worse still, damaged enamel increases risks for tooth decay and infection, which can lead to fillings, root canal therapy, and eventual tooth extraction. The temporary benefits gained from tooth whitening with activated charcoal are simply not worth these consequences. Particularly since they are no more spectacular than the results that can be obtained with a higher quality “whitening” toothpaste.
What are the Safest Ways to Whiten Teeth?
Prevention is the best method of tooth whitening. Minimize your intake of coffee, tea and dark beverages. Don’t use tobacco products. Don’t drink soda or sports drinks. Don’t forget to brush after every meal and snack. Brushing your teeth with a quality toothpaste remains the most effective way to prevent tooth staining. Drink plenty of water throughout the day as well to rinse colorful substances from the surface of teeth before they have a chance to set.
When your daily care fails to prevent staining, Dr. Tabib and Dr. Mello can step in with safe, effective, and long-lasting teeth whitening services. We offer both in office and take home options, enabling each patient to whiten on a schedule that makes sense to them, all under the care of experienced, caring, and trusted cosmetic dentists.
There is nothing wrong with DIY teeth whitening, but using activated charcoal to lighten the shade of your teeth is not a good idea. Stick with safe at-home remedies like oil pulling or brushing with baking soda, an abrasive but far less damaging option. And remember, the most effective way to achieve a bright smile following tooth staining is professional service from a cosmetic dentist.
Dr. Mello and Tabib have the resources, tools, and experience needed to safely lighten the shade of your teeth, significantly, without damaging enamel. If you would like to learn more, call NYC Smile Design at 212-452-3344 to schedule a consultation today.