While having whiter teeth has been long-sought-after by many people, using activated charcoal to brush with is a relatively new fad. The claim is that toothpaste containing activated charcoal can whiten teeth and rid the mouth of harmful bacteria.
What is activated charcoal?
Charcoal is a type of carbon that is created by heating an organic material in the absence of air. It becomes activated once it is treated to become more porous and increase the surface area. This makes activated charcoal very absorbent.
What is activated charcoal used for?
Traditionally, activated charcoal is used in a medical setting to absorb toxins when treating poisoning or overdose.
How would it work to whiten teeth?
While no studies show that it is effective at whitening teeth, it potentially could be abrasive enough to remove some surface staining.
What are the risks?
- Charcoal products may be too abrasive to be safely used to brush your teeth. If a product is too rough, it can damage the enamel and increased tooth sensitivity.
- Not all charcoal toothpaste contains fluoride, which is an essential ingredient for preventing cavities and keeping teeth healthy and strong.
- There is a risk that the charcoal particles could get lodged under the gums and cause gum inflammation. Some black staining of the teeth or tongue may occur.
What do dental professionals think?
Dental professionals rely on scientific evidence when making recommendations to their patients. There is no evidence that charcoal toothpaste are safe to use or if they are even useful.
Furthermore, due to its absorptive qualities, ingesting charcoal may affect nutrient absorption and interfere with any medications taken.
Safer teeth whitening:
If you are considering whitening your teeth, it is a good idea to speak to a dental professional about your options. Those with sensitive teeth, gum recession or fillings and crowns on the front teeth may not be good candidates for teeth whitening.
There is whitening toothpaste available that have been approved for use by the Canadian Dental Association. You can view the list here:
If you are unsure about a product or have any further questions, call us today!
You brush and floss every day to rid your teeth and gums of disease-causing plaque. But while “showing up” is most of the battle, the effectiveness of your technique will win the war.
So, how good are you at removing plaque? One quick way to find out is the “tongue test”—simply rub your tongue along your teeth: they should feel smooth and “squeaky” clean. Surfaces that feel rough and gritty probably still contain plaque.
For a more thorough evaluation, your dental hygienist may use a product during your regular dental visit called a plaque disclosing agent. It’s a solution applied to your teeth that dyes any bacterial plaque present on tooth surfaces a certain color while leaving clean surfaces un-dyed. The disclosing agent shows you where you’re effectively removing plaque and where you’re not.
These products aren’t exclusive to the dental office—you can use something similar at home if you’d like to know how well you’re doing with your hygiene before your next visit. You can find them over-the-counter as tablets, swabs or solutions. You may even find some that have two dye colors, one that reveals older plaque deposits and the other newer plaque.
You simply follow the product’s directions by first brushing and flossing as usual, then chewing the tablet, daubing the swab on all tooth and gum surfaces, or swishing the solution in your mouth like mouthwash for about 30 seconds before spitting it out. You can then use a mirror to observe any dye staining. Pay attention to patterns: for example, dyed plaque scalloping along the gum line means you’ll need to work your brush a little more in those areas.
The dye could color your gums, lips and tongue as well as your teeth, but it only lasts a few hours. And while plaque disclosing agents are FDA-approved for oral use, you should still check the ingredients for any to which you may be allergic.
All in all, a plaque disclosing agent is a good way to occasionally check the effectiveness of your plaque removal efforts. By improving your technique you may further lower your risk of dental disease.
If you would like more information on learning how effective your oral hygiene really is, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Plaque Disclosing Agents.”
Chronic stress is like a tea kettle on the boil—all that “steam” has to go somewhere. We often do this through behaviors like biting our nails, binging on comfort food—or grinding our teeth. That latter habit, however, could have a detrimental effect on teeth, including excessive enamel wear or even fractures.
Also known as bruxism, teeth grinding is the forceful and often involuntary contacting of teeth that often generates abnormally high chewing forces. While not considered a relatively big problem with young children, it can be if you’re an adult. While there could be other causes, chronic stress is often a prime factor for adults with bruxism.
While teeth grinding can occur during the day when you’re awake, it often occurs at night during sleep and may be associated with other sleep disorders like snoring. Although you might not be consciously aware of a grinding episode as it happens, you may notice its effects the next morning, including sore jaws or headaches. Over time, your dentist may begin noticing its effects on your teeth.
So, how can you lessen teeth grinding? For starters, if you’re a tobacco user, quit the habit. Many studies indicate tobacco users report twice the incidence of teeth grinding as non-users. Excessive caffeine, alcohol or drug use can also contribute.
People have also found it helpful to address chronic stress through a number of relaxation techniques like meditation, more relaxing bedtime preparation, bio-feedback or therapy to “de-stress.” Although there’s not a lot of empirical evidence for these techniques’ effectiveness, there’s much anecdotal data from people who’ve found stress relief from them.
There’s also a dental treatment using an occlusal guard that, while not stopping bruxism, can help prevent dental damage. Usually worn during sleep, the custom-made guard fits over the teeth of one jaw, usually the upper. Its high impact plastic prevents the teeth from making solid contact, thus reducing the biting force. You may also be able to reduce bruxism effects through dental work and orthodontics,
You and your dentist can explore the options to find the right treatment strategy for you. By taking action now, you may avoid much more extensive—and expensive—problems with your teeth down the road.
If you would like more information on teeth grinding and what to do about it, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teeth Grinding: Causes and Therapies for a Potentially Troubling Behavior.”
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