Charcoal Toothpaste: Just a Fad, or Good Advice?

By Douglas Pennino, DDS
January 30, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral hygiene  

Are you considering making the switch to charcoal toothpaste after reading about it on a website or in a magazine? Dr. Douglas Pennino oral hygieneand Dr. Chase Pennino, your Barrington, IL dentists, discuss the benefits and potential drawbacks of this new type of toothpaste.

Why charcoal?

Activated charcoal has been used for years to treat a variety of medical problems. It can help absorb toxins if you accidentally ingest chemicals, relieve the itching of mosquito bites and reduce bloating. Lately, it's become a popular ingredient in some kinds of toothpaste. Although activated charcoal may reduce cavities by altering the mouth's pH level, most people like its whitening capabilities.

When the charcoal comes in contact with your teeth, surface stains caused by brightly colored substances, such as cola, soy sauce, coffee or wine, bind to the charcoal. Once you spit out the toothpaste your stains are gone, and your teeth are slightly whiter.

Is is a good idea to use activated charcoal toothpaste?

Barrington dentists have a few concerns about activated charcoal toothpaste. Because it's abrasive, it may damage your tooth enamel. It's possible that using the toothpaste every day might cause your tooth enamel to wear away. Unfortunately, if that happens, instead of appearing whiter, your teeth will actually begin to look yellow. The problem occurs when the darker dentin layer under the enamel is exposed.

Charcoal toothpaste may also be too irritating for some people. The problem is more likely to occur if you use activated charcoal powder rather than the paste, but tooth and gum sensitivity may still be possible if you brush with charcoal toothpaste.

You'll want to be particularly cautious if you have crowns, bridges, veneers, composite resin fillings or bonded areas on your teeth. In some cases, the charcoal in the paste or powder can discolor these restorations.

How often can I use charcoal toothpaste?

If you would like to try charcoal toothpaste, don't use it more than once every week or two to avoid enamel damage. As of yet, the toothpaste hasn't undergone long-term studies to determine its effectiveness and safety. Until it does, it's best to exercise caution when you use it.

If you're not sure that charcoal toothpaste is right for you, your Barrington, IL, dentists can offer other whitening options. Call them at (224) 655-6384 to schedule your appointment.