All I want for Christmas is…coal? The truth behind the teeth-whitening fad

You might have seen charcoal teeth whitening kits and toothpastes online and in-store. But do these work and are they dangerous?

All I want for Christmas is coal - Notting Hill dentist

Heard the one about the woman who used charcoal to whiten her teeth? It sounds like the opening to a bad Christmas cracker gag, but unfortunately, it isn’t!

Activated charcoal – a reheated and oxidised form – is one of the latest beauty fads being touted to give you a whiter smile. And we’re here to take a look at whether it’s a good idea.

Why charcoal?

The truth is charcoal was used as an ingredient in homemade toothpastes in the 19th century along with twig toothbrushes to clean teeth, and even as far back as Roman times – so it’s hardly a recent trend!

The reason it’s being revived as a tooth-cleaning and whitening agent is because it’s thought to contain a quality that allows it to bind to toxins – e.g. stains – and strip them away.

However, that same porous surface of charcoal which is believed to trap these chemicals is also highly abrasive. And that’s where it can be a problem for your teeth.

The dangers of charcoal teeth whitening

Any kind of abrasive used on the teeth puts you at risk of enamel erosion, which can make you more prone to sensitivity, tooth decay, and – you guessed it – yellowing.

Why yellowing from a formula that’s supposed to whiten teeth?

While charcoal may ‘polish’ teeth initially, when enamel is worn down, dentin starts to show through, which is a lovely yellow in colour. So probably not the best long-term solution if you want to maintain a set of healthy pearly whites!

What’s more, enamel erosion can’t be reversed either, and we reckon it’s better to keep your enamel and ditch the charcoal in favour of far more tooth-kind whitening treatments. You can find these in the form of British Dental Association approved toothpastes and at-home whitening kits, as well dentist treatments.

Don’t forget, brushing, rinsing and flossing also help reduce stains!

Give yourself a white Christmas

Leave the coal in the stockings of the naughty little kids this Christmas and put professional teeth whitening at the top of your list to Santa instead! Alternatively, don’t wait for December 25th, and just speak to us at Number 18 Dental today.

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