September 18, 2017
Last year, charcoal teeth whitening became a trend that both excited people and frightened dentists all at the same time. Touted by users as “extremely effective” and “more natural,” dentists have been trying to caution people that this method, at best, is untested. Due to the abrasive nature of charcoal, what might appear to be a cosmetic improvement may actually be the result of irreversible dental damage. Today, a cosmetic dentist discusses the possible risks of charcoal teeth whitening as well as why more traditional alternatives may be the better, safer way to get a beautiful smile.
Charcoal Teeth Whitening and Enamel Erosion
Charcoal teeth whitening first appeared on YouTube as an easy, DIY way to eliminate dental stains using the mixture found in charcoal tablets, which are typically used to help people who have been poisoned by absorbing the contents of the stomach and forcing the body to expel them. This property of absorption, users say, is why charcoal is so great for teeth whitening.
However, dentists caution that this may not be the reason that people are seeing results. More likely, it’s because they are simply scraping the top layer of their enamel off due to the solution’s extremely abrasive nature. While this may make the teeth appear whiter for a short time, with repeated use, it can significantly weaken the teeth and even make them appear darker.
Below the enamel is a layer of a substance called dentin, which is naturally yellow, and as enamel thins, this yellow projects through it and makes the teeth appear discolored. This thinned enamel can also make the teeth much more sensitive as it eliminates protection around the teeth’s nerve. Unlike other whitening methods like you’ll find in stores, this one has not been tested to determine that it is safe, so according to dentists around the country, it should be avoided till all of the science is in.
Safer Ways to Whiten Your Teeth
Fortunately, there are several other ways to whiten your teeth that don’t strike fear into the heart of dentists. More traditional methods, such as whitening gels, have been tested to prove that they can eliminate stains without damaging the enamel. In fact, many gels used by dentists contain fluoride so they can actually strengthen the teeth while improving their color. This knowledge and familiarity with teeth whitening is why you should always contact a dentist first when wanting to brighten your smile.
When it comes to altering the appearance of your teeth, it’s always best to leave it to the professionals. If in the future it’s shown that charcoal teeth whitening is both safe and effective, the first people to recommend it will probably be dentists! For now, they are just cautioning patients to wait until all the facts are in.
About the Author
Dr. Julie Valentine is a cosmetic dentist based in Beverly Hills, CA. She has helped thousands of patients get a whiter smile using the most effective and safest methods currently available, and she continually works to stay on top of the latest trends in dentistry. She currently runs her own practice, and she can be reached through her website or by phone at (310) 551-2955.
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