When scrolling Instagram lately, in between the photos of your friends’ dinners and babies, it’s becoming more and more likely that you’ll scroll past an advertisement featuring pretty models baring gritty-looking black smiles. Or maybe a celebrity or beauty influencer flashing the same grimy grin. They’re brushing their teeth with this black substance, making them temporarily look like they stepped out of a horror movie.
But although this product does make you look like you’ve caught some sort of gruesome zombie virus, it isn’t a Halloween special effect — it’s a trendy new whitening trick. Charcoal toothpaste promises to whiten teeth and improve health. The most important question is: Does it work?
The Truth about Charcoal Toothpaste
From deodorant to face masks to exfoliant, charcoal is definitely the trendy beauty ingredient of the moment. But does it belong in toothpaste? Judging by the growing number of charcoal toothpastes on the market, a lot of people think so.
Putting charcoal on your teeth may seem like the opposite of a whitening treatment, but there’s a (supposedly) scientific explanation behind the trend. Activated charcoal is a form of carbon with particularly porous particles. Those porous particles supposedly draw in other particles, like bacteria, plaque, and staining agents, which wash away when you rinse off the charcoal.
Unfortunately, despite over a hundred randomized, controlled clinical trials on the subject, there is insufficient evidence to suggest that charcoal toothpastes or treatments are effective at whitening teeth. Even more troubling, there is also insufficient evidence to confirm that these treatments are safe.
Many dental health professionals are warning consumers away from these untested, unproven products. Dr. Nigel Carter, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, says, “We believe shoppers may be being misled,” by the charcoal toothpaste craze. “Some of the products may be over-abrasive, and if used too often can wear away the enamel on the teeth.” That worn down protective layer of enamel could cause sensitivity, and worse, it could open your teeth up to increased risk of decay.
How to Whiten Right
So if charcoal toothpaste isn’t the answer, what is? The answer is the same as it’s always been, throughout every trendy, “miracle” teeth whitening cure. Professional whitening is the safest, most effective way to whiten teeth.
But don’t be disappointed! Just because you can’t buy it over the counter doesn’t mean it’s inconvenient or complicated. If you want to try an in-office whitening treatment, we offer Zoom! Whitening. Zoom! can brighten your teeth up to eight shades in a single, one-hour visit. And if you’d prefer to do your whitening at home (or want to stack home whitening treatments on top of your in-office treatments for more dramatic results), Dr. Megan Hodges can provide you with professional-strength whitening gel trays custom crafted for your teeth. It works quickly, and can get you to your whitest possible smile in just two weeks.