Monday, February 20, 2017

Is Activated Charcoal Safe to Use to Whiten Your Teeth?

            As a society, we are always looking for easier or better ways to accomplish the same thing. This has lead to countless innovations and improvements that have greatly improved our lives. Whitening our teeth and improving our smile is no different. We want the best, and we want it now. While it is okay to always be searching for progress, we must be careful not to get ourselves into a short sighted mindset. I have the same concerns for the use of activated charcoal to whiten your teeth.
            We still don’t know enough about the long term affects of using activated charcoal to whiten the teeth. For other common dental materials like fluoride, we have years of data that show its efficacy. This includes long term laboratory testing and clinical trials. The data has shown us how to properly use fluoride and how to avoid any possible complications. In the dental world, activated charcoal hasn’t had the opportunity to prove itself. Until it has been studied in more detail in its role as a whitener, many dentists may steer you in another direction.
            Instead of using activated charcoal, you can try some other whitening options that have been proven safe and effective.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide: this is the active ingredient in Crest Whitestrips and can be purchased over the counter.
  • Carbamide Peroxide: this is the active ingredient in many prescription strength whitening kits. Different percentages can be used based on your tolerance or need.
  • Mild Abrasives: this is used in toothpastes to help reduce the build up of stain. While some toothpastes may have hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, the levels are so small that the abrasives are more effective.

Whatever you decide to do to brighten your smile or whiten your teeth, we recommend talking with your dentist first. They can talk through the risks and rewards of different treatments.

For more information, visit

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS

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