Some people find the idea of charcoal toothpaste counterintuitive. Isn’t the stuff black? Won’t it leave your teeth black? The answer is yes, it is black and no, it won’t leave your teeth black. Indeed, people who swear by this toothpaste claim that it takes away stains, fights pathogens and bad breath and leaves teeth bright white, much like the addition of lead adds extra sparkle and clarity to crystal.
What’s In This Toothpaste?
Charcoal is made when carboniferous materials such as wood are burnt slowly. The toothpaste is made from activated charcoal, which is made when these materials are superheated to the point where they’re stripped of certain molecules. This makes the charcoal porous, which makes it more able to absorb toxins. This is why activated charcoal is given to people if they ingest poison and why it is used in some types of water filters. Indeed, charcoal has been used to clean the teeth since at least the time of the ancient Romans.
Does it Taste like Charcoal?
The black toothpaste doesn’t taste like what you think charcoal should taste like. People who use it believe it tastes like baking soda-based toothpaste, and like other toothpastes it has additives that make it palatable. Some of these toothpastes also have additives such as bentonite. This is a type of clay that’s used in face masks and is also supposed to draw impurities out of the body.
Are There Real Benefits?
Dentists and researchers who have looked into charcoal toothpaste do notice that it removes stains, even as it doesn’t whiten your teeth overly much. That’s mainly because it just doesn’t stay on your teeth long enough to sink in and whiten them. Removing stains and whitening the teeth aren’t the same thing. Stains caused by tea and wine are extrinsic, which means they’re right on top of the enamel and are fairly easy to remove. To really whiten the teeth means that a bleaching agent needs to penetrate beneath the enamel.
Are There Any Drawbacks?
One caveat about charcoal toothpaste is that not all of the varieties have fluoride. If you want to prevent cavities, your dentist may advise you to rinse with a fluoride mouthwash after you brush.
Another problem with charcoal-based toothpaste is that it might be too abrasive. Enamel is the toughest material in the body, but it can still be damaged. When this happens, bacteria can find places to hide in the etched enamel of tooth. This can lead to plaque, which is a sticky film that further eats into the enamel and can cause cavities and even gum disease. Dentists advise patients to brush very gently with these toothpastes with a soft-bristled brush, but you should do that anyway, with any type of toothpaste you use.
Since charcoal is absorptive, some people who use charcoal toothpastes are worried that they will absorb any medications that the person is taking, such as birth control pills and make them less effective. The good news here is that you only have to worry about that if you’re actually swallowing a lot of the charcoal. If you’re rinsing it out of your mouth the way you do with other toothpastes, you don’t have much to worry about.
What Should You Do For Teeth Whitening?
Since charcoal toothpastes don’t really whiten your teeth, your best bet is to have your teeth whitened professionally at your dentist’s office. It is true that you can whiten your teeth at home, but there’s too high a risk that you’ll injure your gums if you’re not very careful. Besides, the teeth whiteners that your dentist uses are much more powerful, and they can apply them in a way that won’t injure your teeth or gums but will make your teeth wonderfully bright and white.