Does Activated Charcoal Really Whiten Teeth?

Close-up of happy female smile and healthy teeth

Everyone wants whiter teeth and a brighter smile to feel more confident and look more attractive. It is only natural for folks to want to find a do-it-yourself, inexpensive home remedy that works. There are two parts to whitening one’s teeth. The first is stain removal and the second is the actual bleaching of the tooth’s enamel.  At 172 NYC Dental, stain removal is done during the prophylaxis (cleaning) by our hygienists. The whitening of the teeth is a separate process.

So where does activated charcoal fit in?

What Is Activated Charcoal?

Activated charcoal is not the charcoal used for barbecuing. It is a fine black powder created by oxidizing natural substances like wood, coal, olive and coconut shells, under extreme heat. Interestingly,  activated charcoal has the ability to filter impurities and has been proven to be useful in water filtration systems.

What Is Activated Charcoal’s Effect On Teeth

A study by the American Dental Association (ADA) was unable to prove that activated charcoal based treatments were effective or safe. Essentially, they are saying “buyer beware” when it comes to using activated charcoal.

Risks Of Activated Charcoal

There are some risks associated with using activated charcoal to whiten your teeth. Here are a few:

  • Activated charcoal is very abrasive and wears down enamel under prolonged use. There is a risk of exposing the second layer of the tooth, dentin, which Is yellow in color and if exposed would make the chance for a white smile worse. The ADA recommends products with a Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA) at 250 or lower. 
  • Activated charcoal doesn’t remove bacteria from the teeth because charcoal-based toothpaste doesn’t contain fluoride which is needed to prevent tooth decay. 
  • There have been reports of increased sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures due to prolonged use of activated charcoal.

We at 172 NYC Dental are not sure about the effectiveness or safety of activated charcoal to whiten your teeth, so we offer the following treatments proven to be better and safer.

Dental Options For Whitening Teeth

  • Sensodyne whitening toothpaste:  These kinds of toothpaste are harmless and not very effective. 
  • Whitening strips: Brands like Crest offer inexpensive, over-the-counter strips that work effectively. 
  • Custom whitening trays: These are fabricated in our office and fit very well. Whitening trays feature a higher concentration of whitening gel, and can be used multiple times.
  • Zoom In-Office Whitening: This is the gold standard for tooth whitening. We highly recommend this service to anyone interested in teeth whitening
  • Cosmetic dentistry: Options include Invisalign clear retainers and porcelain veneers.

Call 172 NYC Dental Today

We at 172 NYC Dental stand ready to service your every dental need. We will always do what’s best for you. All our advice is best on science and clinical excellence. Please call us at 646-921-5541 for a most comprehensive and caring experience.

About Dr. Albert Song

Dr. Song's extensive knowledge in general dentistry allows him to create and execute a variety of treatment plans based on your individual oral health needs. Dr. Song can also perform a variety of cosmetic dentistry procedures, transforming the look and feel of your smile.

Questions? Contact us online or give us a call at 646-921-5541 today!
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