We’ve seen a lot of wild suggestions and trends out there when it comes to whitening teeth. Some are OK, such as ADA-approved whitening strips and professional whitening. Others may not be as good for your teeth as you think. In fact, they could be damaging to your teeth. Charcoal toothpaste is one such trend. Many believe it can whiten your teeth when used regularly, but in reality, It can actually damage your teeth. 

Freeman Orthodontics is passionate about perfecting your teeth. We want you to have a smile you’ll be proud to show off. We know that, for many, that means having a white, clean smile. We encourage that, but only with the right tools. Let us explain why charcoal toothpaste may not do what you’ve heard on social media. 

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What Is Charcoal Toothpaste?

You may have heard about “charcoal toothpaste,” but what is it? Charcoal toothpaste is made of activated charcoal, a powder made of fine grains of wood, coconut shells, or other natural substances. Those substances are burned to combine with oxygen, otherwise known as oxidizing. The result is charcoal that can absorb toxins and remove them from services. It is used medically to remove toxins. 

Is this the charcoal you use on your grills? Yes and no. It’s similar, but grilling charcoal often contains chemicals that help it light better, such as lighter fluid. So don’t get the idea to grab some charcoal from the bottom of your bag. 

Is Charcoal Toothpaste Safe?

The biggest question we get is if charcoal toothpaste is bad for your teeth. After all, you’re brushing your teeth with something that looks black and gritty. It might be better to start with the basic question, “what does charcoal toothpaste do?” 

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Is Charcoal Toothpaste Good for Your Teeth?

Charcoal toothpaste is a mild abrasive that scrubs the surface of your teeth, called the enamel. People use charcoal toothpaste to scrub off surface stains and make their teeth look cleaner. Think of it as using the scrubbing side of your dish sponge rather than the soft, spongy side. 

The problem with this is that over time, that abrasive material can damage your enamel. The grains can wear down your enamel and create thin spots. The enamel protects the nerves and live portion of your tooth. The thinner your enamel, the more sensitive your teeth. So when our patients ask, “can charcoal toothpaste cause sensitive teeth?” The answer is “yes,” mainly if it’s used daily. 

Another problem is that charcoal toothpaste doesn’t contain fluoride, and regular toothpaste does. This is a mineral that strengthens your enamel. So not only are you damaging it with the charcoal, you’re robbing your enamel of the substance that could help it defend against such damage. 

We strongly recommend you do NOT use charcoal toothpaste daily. 

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Can You Use Charcoal Toothpaste With Braces?

You probably know by now that substances can get trapped in and around your braces. Charcoal is no exception. This black substance can get trapped around your brackets or even in microcracks in your enamel. The result could be discoloration around your brackets that could remain even after your braces are removed. That’s the last thing you want! 

The best solution is to avoid charcoal toothpaste while wearing braces. There are other whitening methods you can try once your braces are removed. You can even use charcoal toothpaste on occasion. It’s just best to wait until your braces are removed. 

Does Charcoal Toothpaste Whiten Teeth?

The burning question remains: Does charcoal toothpaste work? Yes and no. Charcoal toothpaste can remove surface stains from teeth, which will make your teeth whiter. For example, if your teeth are yellowed from coffee or soft drinks, charcoal toothpaste can clean off the surface and make your teeth whiter. 

However, not all stains stay on the surface. Enamel can be slightly porous and have microcracks that allow stains to penetrate the tooth’s surface. This can lead to discoloration below the surface. Charcoal cannot remove these stains. Scrubbing harder with the charcoal or using it more often can have the opposite effect and leave your teeth gray or even black. 

The bottom line is that when used on rare occasions, charcoal can clean the surfaces of teeth and make them look cleaner and whiter. The charcoal can also remove toxins and bacteria from your mouth, improving your breath. However, if your stains are deeper, other whitening methods are recommended. If you suffer from chronic bad breath (halitosis), talk to the team at Freeman Orthodontics rather than continuously using charcoal toothpaste. There may be something more going on, from side effects of certain drugs to tooth decay or other health issues.  

How Should I Whiten My Teeth?

Hydrogen peroxide methods are more effective in whitening your teeth, and they can do it without damaging your enamel. The best approach is to use a professional to whiten your teeth. Some dentists offer teeth whitening as part of their cosmetic dentistry services. 

Many people use at-home whitening kits. These kits contain strips covered in a gel containing hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. The gel penetrates the tooth and essentially bleaches the stains away. 

These strips are popular but not recommended for people with gum disease or sensitive teeth. The chemicals in these strips can make both worse and make your mouth very painful. We recommend you talk to your dentist or us before using these products. 

There are also toothpastes out there that claim to whiten teeth. They can lighten your teeth over an extended period of time. However, they usually don’t contain enough whitening agent to make your teeth visibly lighter right away. 

Getting a Great Smile in San Jose, CA

Freeman Orthodontics can guide you to a great smile through orthodontic treatment. Whether you’re looking for braces or clear aligners, we can help you improve your smile safely and effectively. 

The best way to start is with a virtual consultation, followed by a free, no-obligation consultation at our San Jose, CA, office. We can help you create the smile you’ve always wanted. We can also recommend the best way to make your teeth whiter once your treatment is complete!

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