Charcoal Whitening, Is It A Good Idea?

We have received a lot of questions from our patients about Activated Charcoal Whitening.  Does it work? Is it safe? How do you do it?  We can help you decide if it is a good idea or not.  

 

There are two ways that patients can achieve whiter teeth:

 

The first way uses a bleaching agent such as carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide in concentrations of 10-35%.  The material breaks down certain stains inside the tooth to reduce their color. Dental office whitening trays and strips purchased at the drug store use this method. Studies have shown that this method works well without any damage to the tooth.

 

The second way uses an abrasive, chemical, or polishing agent that removes surface stains.  Whitening toothpastes, baking soda and activated charcoal are examples. At this time, the American Dental Association has not recognized any formal evidence that activated charcoal actually whitens teeth.  

 

Activated charcoal is a finely milled black powder made from charred plant shells, bones, fruit pits, and an assortment of other organic materials.  The theory is that since it is used to absorb toxins from the body when someone ingests something harmful, then it may have the ability to bind to and absorb plaque and other surface compounds that stain teeth.  Activated charcoal does not change the color of teeth that are deeply stained or naturally yellowing.  The activated charcoal is also abrasive and the hope is that it may scrub off the surface stains.

Therein lies the problem with activated charcoal whitening.  It can be abrasive to the tooth enamel. Excess abrasion can cause gum recession, enamel loss, and sensitivity of the tooth.  

 

If you want to try charcoal whitening, activated charcoal can be purchased from health food stores and pharmacies in the form of capsules. Mix one capsule with 1 mL of water and make a paste.  We suggest that you consider smearing the product on your teeth instead of brushing it on. This allows the product to work without harming your enamel.  After about 4 minutes rinse your mouth. You may need to rinse several times. You can try this for several days. If you don’t see a difference in the color of the tooth after 5 attempts, then it probably won’t work for you.  

 

Although anyone can purchase activated charcoal powder, you should consult a dental professional before using it. The best way to keep your mouth healthy and your teeth white is to continue regular dental appointments.  At Dental Elements our hygienists will thoroughly clean your teeth, remove any surface stains, and discuss whether our professional whitening process, or an over the counter product would be best to whiten your teeth. He or she can also help you get to the bottom of why your teeth are staining.  

 

Contact us today, we’re here to help you have whiter teeth!