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Charcoal toothpaste?

By now you’ve likely had to field some questions regarding the efficacy of charcoal toothpaste.  It’s being billed as an easy, all-natural teeth-whitening solution that can be used in place of traditional toothpaste. But does it work?

Here are a few thoughts.

Getting to know activated charcoal

Activated charcoal has been heated to extremely high temperatures that change its molecular makeup and transforms it into a fine powder that’s tasteless, odorless and 100% nontoxic. There’s evidence that activated charcoal can be used medicinally. It’s been shown to trap chemicals and pass them through your system before the body can absorb the toxins. From tummy aches or accidental ingestion of poison, activated charcoal might be able to help.

A lack of evidence

The short answer from the American Dental Association (ADA) is that there’s no evidence to show that brushing with charcoal is safe or effective for your teeth and gums. While manufacturers claim that the micro-particles in charcoal can scrub teeth clean, this philosophy goes against the ADA’s stance that abrasive materials will damage teeth in the long haul, removing enamel and bringing dentin layers closer to the surface.

Traditional toothpastes contain a more-gentle abrasive that’s typically comprised of calcium carbonate or phosphate salt. This substance works to clean away plaque and food debris without wearing down enamel. Charcoal toothpaste rarely includes fluoride.

Other whitening solutions

You can suggest that your patients use an at-home whitening kit or book an appointment for an in-office whitening or recommend a stain removal toothpaste that’s earned the ADA’s seal of acceptance.

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