Have you seen those videos on social media of people using
activated charcoal to try and whiten their teeth? Plenty of online articles will
claim it’s a proven method for improving your smile, but is that the full
story? Using “natural” methods of whitening such as charcoal may sound
appealing, but those who endorse such treatments often leave out important
details. Here’s what you need to know about charcoal and how it compares to professional
teeth whitening and other methods.
Does Charcoal Whitening Work?
Activated charcoal is very porous; it’s often used medically
to treat poison by absorbing and removing toxins from the body. With charcoal
teeth whitening, the idea is that the charcoal joins with bacteria and staining
molecules on your teeth before being rinsed away and taking the harmful
substances with it.
However, the American Dental Association has yet to find
enough evidence to say that using charcoal on your teeth is safe and effective.
There is, however, a concern that charcoal-based whitening products may damage your
teeth. This is because they tend to be highly abrasive, meaning they wear down
the outer enamel. Not only is this harmful for the tooth overall, but it can
also cause the dentin under the enamel to become more visible, meaning your
teeth would actually appear yellower over time.
How is Professional Whitening More Beneficial than Charcoal Whitening?
A professional treatment will have been tested for
effectiveness and will be less likely to damage the tooth. In-office whitening will
involve an approved bleaching solution that gets into the teeth to remove stain
molecules that charcoal wouldn’t be able to reach. This treatment can give
results over the course of a single visit.
As an alternative, your dentist would be able to provide an
at-home whitening kit for a more gradual change. The kit would contain
professional bleaching products and custom-fitted trays to be worn for a
certain length of time. Again, unlike charcoal, this method is safer and has
more scientific backing.
What About Other Methods?
There are other do-it-yourself whitening methods besides
charcoal. Acidic fruits such as oranges are sometimes mixed with baking soda
and smeared on the teeth to remove stains, but while many such foods are fine
when eaten normally, letting citric acid sit on your teeth can damage the
enamel. Some people say swishing coconut oil and spices like turmeric in your
mouth can whiten teeth, but there’s no reliable data to support it.
If you’ve been looking to brighten your smile, it’s best to
speak with your dentist before trying a given treatment. Don’t trust rumors on
the internet for advice; an opinion from a professional can help steer you
towards more reliable methods, such as professional whitening. And don’t
forget: good oral hygiene can make a difference in tooth coloration, so keep
brushing and flossing every day!
About the Practice
At Columbian Square Dental, Drs. William Olafson and
Jacinthe Giroux combine their experience and training to provide families with
excellent preventive, cosmetic, and restorative dental treatment. They offer
the Zoom! treatment and at-home whitening kits to help patients with discolored
teeth. To schedule an appointment, visit their website or
call (781) 337-6644.