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5 April 2019

Our Streatham dental team recommends taking care if you are considering this product.

If you look in the dental section of a supermarket, you may well be overwhelmed by the different types of toothpaste and flossing equipment currently on sale. Contrast this with how it would have been when our parents were the same age as us, and it is perhaps not surprising that choosing the best toothpaste for you can be somewhat confusing.

Add to this, the money that is spent on promoting some of the more ‘niche’ toothpastes, along with the endorsements by celebrities, and it is quite possible that we may end up buying a product that is not particularly effective, and may well even be harmful to our teeth.

Charcoal toothpaste

We have discussed before, about why we believe that teeth whitening toothpastes are not very effective. In the main, this is due to legal restrictions on the active ingredient that is allowed in these toothpastes. There is another type of toothpaste though, which often doesn’t contain this, but is still claimed to be successful in whitening your teeth, and that is charcoal toothpaste. In addition to its whitening properties, it is also claimed that it can reduce gum problems through effective removal of bacteria from the gum line.

Let us take a look at these two claims now.

Bacterial removal

It is true that charcoal is widely used to treat some stomach conditions and also, in treating certain drug overdoses. Charcoal is well known for absorbing toxins, which is why it can be effective in the cases just mentioned. It is this basis that the claim to remove bacteria from the gums is based upon.  At the Confidental Clinic, we can understand the logic of this argument but must emphasise that little or no detailed research has yet been done regarding this, and therefore these claims are just that, with no real factual evidence to currently back them up.

Teeth whitening

The main reason that people use charcoal toothpaste is for teeth whitening purposes. How though, can charcoal toothpaste achieve this if it contains little or no active whitening ingredient? The truth is that it aims to do this in a way that is harmful to your teeth. The charcoal used in these toothpastes is not the type you would find on your barbeque, but is activated charcoal. This means that it has been heated to a very high temperature that causes it to break down into very fine particles. Whilst these may feel smooth to the touch, they are in fact quite hard, and it is this abrasive quality that helps to remove surface staining on the teeth.

Whilst many toothpastes contain an element of abrasive ingredients, the amount contained in charcoal toothpaste means that more of the surface staining can be removed. This might sound like good news but it also means that more of the surface enamel of our teeth will be removed when we brush as well. As healthy enamel is important for protecting our teeth against decay, and to give them strength, using charcoal toothpaste can potentially create problems for you further down the line, particularly if it isn’t used carefully.

These problems may not only include decay, but also tooth sensitivity as the more porous layer beneath the enamel is exposed. The rough surface caused by the enamel wear will also attract staining from everyday food and drinks, such as tea and coffee, and it then begins an ongoing battle to keep your teeth looking white. If you contain to fight this battle with more charcoal toothpaste, the problem potentially becomes worse.

Our advice

At the Confidental Clinic in Streatham, we advise our patients to think carefully before buying these products. We appreciate that our patients want to have healthy gums and nice looking teeth, but charcoal toothpaste is arguably not the best way to achieve this.

For healthy gums, we recommend that you see our dental hygienist for advice on how to keep them clean on a daily basis, and to receive a professional clean from them at regular intervals, usually every six months. Doing so is the most effective way of looking after your gums and helping avoid gum disease.

For whiter teeth, you can avoid some of the worst foods for teeth staining, but eventually, you may need some extra help in getting them to look as white as you want. This can be effectively and safely achieved by using the teeth whitening treatment that we offer. This is a treatment that you can use at home and will allow you to have much whiter looking teeth in just a week or two.

If you have been using charcoal toothpaste for some time, or perhaps generally brush too hard, it is possible that you may already have damaged the external enamel of your teeth. So if you feel that you are fighting a losing battle to keep your teeth white, or if they feel sensitive, you may wish to discuss your options with us.

For more information about looking after your teeth, both from a health and aesthetic perspective, please arrange to have a consultation with one of our dentists. You can make an appointment by calling our Streatham dental clinic on 020 8399 1291.

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