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  • Writer's pictureKelly White

The Risks and Limitations of Brushing Teeth with Activated Charcoal

In recent times, there has been a growing interest in home health remedies for various health issues, driven by rising medical costs and economic challenges. While many of these trends focus on medical problems, there is one concerning practice that has caught the attention of dentists: brushing teeth with activated charcoal for whitening purposes. This blog post explores the concept of activated charcoal, its safety as a dental remedy, and the recommendations put forth by dental professionals.

Understanding Activated Charcoal: Activated charcoal is a substance widely used in the medical field for its toxin-absorbing properties. It is a type of common charcoal produced by heating wood or other materials in the absence of oxygen. The process creates a lightweight black carbon and ash residue. To enhance its surface area and porosity, the charcoal is heated with a gas. This porous quality allows the charcoal to attract and bind materials through adsorption, making it useful for absorbing toxins, drugs, and poisons.

Concerns and Limitations: While the idea of using activated charcoal for teeth whitening may seem appealing, it is essential to consider its potential risks. The abrasive nature of activated charcoal can roughen tooth enamel, making teeth more vulnerable to bacteria, cavities, and gum damage. Additionally, if you opt for charcoal toothpaste, it is crucial to check the fluoride content. Many brands do not contain sufficient fluoride levels to adequately protect teeth, necessitating the use of a separate fluoride toothpaste after brushing with charcoal toothpaste.

The Oral Health Foundation's Warning: Recognizing the potential risks associated with charcoal toothpaste, the Oral Health Foundation issued a statement emphasizing the importance of fluoride in toothpaste. They recommend a fluoride content of 1350 to 1,500 parts per million (ppm) to actively safeguard teeth against decay. However, several charcoal toothpaste brands fall short of this requirement, placing users at an increased risk of tooth decay. Therefore, it is crucial to exercise caution and prioritize your oral health.

Seeking Alternative Teeth Whitening Options: While the popularity of brushing with activated charcoal might be widespread, it is important to remember that popularity does not equate to safety or effectiveness. Until further research sheds more light on the safety and efficacy of charcoal whitening, it is advisable to explore other teeth whitening options when dealing with discolored or yellow teeth. Dental professionals, like Dental Associates of West Michigan, recommend consulting with a dentist to determine the best course of action for achieving a healthy, white smile.

As the demand for affordable alternatives to surgery and prescription medications continues to rise, the use of activated charcoal for teeth whitening has gained attention. However, it is crucial to consider the potential risks and limitations associated with this practice. The abrasive nature of activated charcoal can harm tooth enamel and increase the vulnerability to dental issues. Furthermore, the fluoride content in charcoal toothpaste may be insufficient for optimal tooth protection. Therefore, until more information becomes available, it is recommended to rely on proven teeth whitening options and consult with dental professionals for guidance. Prioritizing your oral health should always be the primary goal.

Dental Associates of West Michigan

(616) 554-5940

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