If you’ve ever heard of charcoal toothpaste, you may think of the charcoal that you use to grill burgers. This is the same type of material that is being used to clean the teeth as a popular trend right now. There are many claims that charcoal toothpaste has whitening power and can help as an antiviral, antifungal or antibacterial substance for the mouth. Just how true are those claims? Find out why charcoal toothpaste is a trend, what it does to your mouth and if it is something you actually benefit from!
Before you take another bite out of a tasty treat, take a minute to think about what you are putting in your body. Sugar has many health effects that are negative if you consume too much. Sugar can also damage your teeth. When you eat, sugars in foods and drinks mix with bacteria in your mouth to create plaque. This is a sticky, acidic substance that coats your teeth and eats away at your tooth enamel. If you don’t brush that plaque away, it will continue to eat at your teeth, slowly causing cavities. These are areas where acid and bacteria has killed part of your tooth. If you eat lots of sugar, then odds are that you have cavities more often than someone who doesn’t eat tons of sugar.
Plaque erodes your teeth because it’s acidic in nature. It also irritates your gums, causing them to recede from your teeth. This leads to gum disease over time if you don’t practice proper oral hygiene habits. Studies show that over 91% of Americans have had a cavity in their life. Many have had multiple cavities. 42% of children between 2 and 11 have tooth decay. About 26% of adults have untreated tooth decay (cavities) and children are similar in those numbers. The problem with cavities is so prevalent, that the National Institutes of Health have called tooth decay one of the most “prevalent, chronic diseases” among children and adults.
Brushing Your teeth is one of the most important things you can do for your oral health. If you want to avoid cavities, there is simply no way around brushing. The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth at least twice a day for 2 minutes at a time. Use toothpaste that is enriched with some fluoride if you are able to. This is a naturally-occuring mineral in the earth’s crust that is proven to help reduce your risk for cavities.
We have all seen a toothpaste aisle with all the usual big-name brands like Crest and Oral-B. Sweeping through the industry lately is a product that is charcoal toothpaste. This toothpaste already had a huge surge more than a decade ago and now it is becoming popular once more. When you hear “charcoal toothpaste”, you likely think of charcoal that you throw in your barbeque grill. It’s actually not that charcoal you’re thinking of, but it’s close.
Charcoal toothpaste contains “activated charcoal”. This is essentially charcoal that has been professionally processed and treated, making the surface porous. Activated charcoal is also a base instead of an acid, and is negatively charged. This is the reason why it can help your oral health. It binds to acidic elements in your mouth like bacteria and plaque, helping to remove them from your mouth and your system quicker than other methods.
The base nature of activated charcoal is the reason why it’s in so many health products to help with your mouth, digestive system, to help with hangovers and more. In studies, activated charcoal is shown to do adsorption. The “ad” means that instead of absorbing (with a “b”), it’s instead binding to the surface of chemicals and acids. That binding action helps remove toxins, acids, chemicals, medications and more from your body.
Countless dentists and oral health professionals state that charcoal toothpaste can be beneficial to your oral health, but there are tips you want to be aware of. Charcoal toothpaste is great at getting your teeth whiter by removing all the gunk on your teeth. The charcoal will absorb plaque and acids, while also soaking up stains left from coffee, tea, wine, dyes and more. Getting whiter teeth is one of the benefits of charcoal toothpaste, but it’s not the same as teeth whitening. To change the shade of your teeth beyond absorbing surface stains, you’ll have to speak to your dentist about teeth whitening services.
Charcoal toothpaste is also made up of natural ingredients like coconut shells. You’re not putting a bunch of lab chemicals on your teeth, which makes it safer. However, you want to choose only trusted brands that aren’t super abrasive. If your charcoal is too abrasive (and you’ll feel it), you can erode your tooth enamel. The abrasive nature is also why it’s only recommended that you use charcoal toothpaste 2-3 times a week (max). Brush very gently with this toothpaste or leave it on your teeth for 5-10 minutes, then rinse your mouth until there is no more charcoal present.
Charcoal toothpaste won’t cure any oral health problems you have. If you are prone to tooth decay, gum disease and oral issues, don’t stop using fluoride toothpaste so that you have that cavity protection. Limit your sugar intake and always enlist the help of a dentist. Schedule your biannual dental check up or call Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies at (970) 223-8425 for your toothpaste questions!