The Charc(whole) Truth

Recently we’ve been hearing more questions about activated charcoal and its potential to whiten teeth. It’s an intriguing phenomenon in the whitening category and we wanted to share our findings and our verdict on whether it actually helps or harms oral health.

To begin, activated charcoal capsules & toothpaste are part of a larger movement toward natural healthcare. We support natural healthcare, and even recommend certain applications when in patients’ best interests, but our blanket philosophy that we’d like to share is to look at all trends – all-natural or not! – with a discerning eye.

Of course, our eye is drawn to the dental side of things! Here are a few things to keep in mind before jumping on the charcoal bandwagon.

  • It can be messy – Using an activated charcoal capsule instead of the toothpaste could be off-putting to sticklers for cleanliness because the method is messier, requiring you to break a capsule full of the powder open and put it on your toothbrush or straight into your mouth. If you choose charcoal toothpaste, you will find the process more like what you experience now.
  • It’s different from normal toothpaste – Charcoal toothpaste is probably not what you’re used to: in most cases it is black or grey in appearance and may have a gritty texture.
  • It could be abrasive – The ADA is concerned that activated charcoal is abrasive to tooth enamel, which is not good because when enamel is gone it is gone. In addition to that, once your enamel wears down dentin may appear below, and dentin has more of a yellow-white color, which would really put a dampener on whitening!
  • Less fluoride – Generally charcoal toothpastes tend to be formulated with less fluoride content than other toothpastes on the market, and a complete switch to charcoal toothpaste could impact your oral health situation.

With these things in mind, the most important point is that there is no scientific evidence that charcoal toothpaste whitens teeth. Could it? Perhaps, but findings have not been conclusive. Then the question is whether the payoff is worth it. FDA Hygienist Kelly summarizes our thoughts on charcoal well: “We recommend use of charcoal toothpaste for adults only and it is not recommended for daily use due to its abrasiveness.” While charcoal does have a naturally purifying quality, that alone doesn’t mean that we should use it daily, especially when it could roughen tooth surfaces and potentially offer more opportunity for bacteria to grow and cavities to form.

If you catch yourself weighing the options, remember there are many whitening methods on the market that are proven to work! We recommend our professional whitening service because the results are immediate and it’s done professionally, so you can be assured of the best result possible. Just give us a call at 207.781.5900 and we’ll be happy to arrange an appointment.

The Truth About Maintaining a White Smile

We all want white teeth, but the best way to achieve that is to understand what stains the teeth to begin with. It’s important to know that teeth have pores and absorb similarly to our skin. We often think twice about applying certain products and chemicals to our bodies, so we should care the same for our teeth! Luckily for all of us, there are methods to remove stains from teeth, and allow us to regain their natural shade of white.

What stains our teeth?

The foods and drinks we consume have much to do with the discoloration on our teeth. Though they’re packed with nutrients, acidic foods such as citrus fruits or tomatoes have a tendency to stain teeth a yellowish color. These foods also strip enamel from teeth, revealing the dentin beneath.  Coffee, black/green tea, blackberries, soda, and red wine all cause discoloration. The bacteria in our mouths latch on to sugar, and when bacteria feed on sugar they release acids in the process: acids that create tooth decay. Even those who enjoy seltzer water are not off the hook; tooth discoloration can happen with anything carbonated due to the acids involved.

Teeth Whitening  

We understand that no one wants to worry about their teeth when enjoying morning coffee, so we’re here to help you achieve your best smile. There are several safe and effective methods to remove food and drink stains; however, before trying any sort of whitening you should be aware that the ingredients in whitener dehydrate the teeth. When teeth become dehydrated, they also become porous. It’s then difficult for them to insulate the nerve which causes the teeth/gums to experience temperature sensitivity that could last for 16-36 hours after whitening. The teeth naturally rehydrate within this time from saliva.

Professional teeth whitening is perfectly safe. The best time to whiten teeth is before bed and it’s good to wait 48 hours before consuming dark liquids. This should allow enough time for the teeth to rehydrate making them more impermeable. The main ingredient in most whiteners is hydrogen peroxide or baking soda.

Whitening Methods

If you’re interested in whitening your teeth here are some methods for you to look into. Please note that some methods may take more time than others. Also, not everyone will see the same results. Unfortunately, if the enamel has been stripped from your teeth there is no way to whiten the dentin beneath.

  • Paint-ons
  • Over-the-Counter trays and gels
  • Whitening strips
  • Coconut oil pulling
  • Professional whitening

If you have any questions about the best option for you, or if you’d like to learn more about our professional whitening service, please give us a call at 207-781-5900.