Questionable Toothpaste Alternatives

Charcoal or Baking Soda for Whiter Teeth?

In the search for alternatives to traditional methods, many people look for options to supplement or even replace common dental tools and products. In recent years, reports have come through saying that you can whiten your teeth by using baking soda or charcoal. For many individuals, the first reaction to this claim is: “Charcoal on my teeth? Disgusting!” Still, posts and videos like these are becoming more and more popular. So, let’s discuss both of these Internet suggestions.

Activated Charcoal and Your Teeth

Activated charcoal is often taken as a supplement to absorb certain substances in the digestive system, before they reach the bloodstream. It is also used in facial masks, air and water filters, and shampoos. Basically, activated charcoal binds to toxins and odors, helping to remove them from the environment, whether it’s your gut, your fish tank, or the air around you. Many therefore claim that charcoal can also remove substances that stain your teeth, supposedly bringing back their whiteness. Other claims on social media focus on charcoal raising the pH balance in your mouth, thereby neutralizing acids from foods and drinks. Some also point out that charcoal use in tooth cleaning dates all the way back to Roman times. (Of course, the Romans also used lead in their plumbing and eating utensils.)

Despite all of these positive statements, none of them have ever been verified by scientific study. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), any dental product containing charcoal is not eligible for its Seal of Acceptance. Charcoal’s abrasive texture might do more harm than good by actually wearing down tooth enamel. Any restorations, like crowns, bridges, implants or tooth-colored fillings, are also susceptible to being stained by the dark charcoal, effectively reversing the desired result.

Please note that activated charcoal is also significantly different from barbeque charcoal, which usually contains ingredients that make it more flammable. These components of your typical briquettes are definitely not meant for human consumption!

Baking Soda and Your Teeth

There are some toothpastes with baking soda added as an ingredient. In fact, the ADA gives at least one of them their Seal of Acceptance. However, this does not mean that using baking soda in larger amounts, or mixing it with salt or other ingredients, will whiten your teeth. Baking soda does not kill bacteria, and is more abrasive than charcoal. These two things therefore increase the risk of cavity formation if you only use baking soda to brush your teeth.

Also, please note that baking soda is totally different from baking powder. Digesting straight baking powder can lead to serious harm.

Always Check with Your Dentist

If you have questions about alternative means to clean or whiten your teeth, pick up your phone or click your mouse and contact the Placerville Dental Group. Let our expertise and knowledge about your personal dental circumstances work for you. For instance, the real ingredient you want to meet your teeth is fluoride, not charcoal or baking soda. Fluoride has tremendous benefits for your teeth and the rest of your oral health. Focus on cleaning your teeth with products featuring that component. What else should you do to get cleaner, whiter teeth? Come on in to see us at the Placerville Dental Group for your semi-annual checkup and find out!


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