Can Using Charcoal Toothpaste Make Stains On Teeth Worse?

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Medically reviewed by Danielle Romatz, RDH

Charcoal toothpaste has gained popularity in the oral health industry for its miraculous teeth whitening capabilities. But, while it’s a trendy option for brightening smiles, its long-term use can significantly affect your oral health. So, does charcoal toothpaste make stains on teeth worse?

Using charcoal toothpaste can make stains on teeth worse. Activated charcoal wears down the enamel over time, exposing the dentin tissue, which appears yellow. Also, charcoal particles can fill cracks and chinks of older teeth and dental restorations, discoloring them.

Ditching a popular teeth whitening product like charcoal toothpaste is tricky if you’re not sure of its negative impacts. Let’s dive in so we explore everything in detail.

Does Using Charcoal Toothpaste Help Get Rid of Yellow Stains on Teeth?

Pretty young woman brushing her teeth with black toothpaste

Charcoal toothpaste (on Amazon) can help get rid of yellow stains only on the surface of the teeth. The activated charcoal in toothpaste has mild abrasive properties that make it gently scour the tooth surface. It’s also porous and can attract and absorb colored particles of substances on the teeth.

However, there’s no proof that charcoal toothpaste can eliminate the natural yellowish coloring below the tooth enamel. The enamel is the hard outer cover of the tooth that protects the delicate inner structures.

The process of removing yellow stains and brightening teeth is a bit complex. A product must remove the surface stains on teeth without exposing the intrinsic yellow coloring beneath the enamel.

Yellow stains below the enamel may occur due to underlying health conditions, overexposure to fluoride, and certain medications.

And while charcoal toothpaste can scrub off the superficial stains on teeth, it doesn’t create the blue-shift effect that makes teeth appear whiter. Furthermore, publications like the Journal of the American Dental Association show no concrete proof that charcoal toothpaste has teeth whitening benefits.

Does Using Charcoal Toothpaste Make Stains Worse?

Charcoal toothpaste may not be effective at brightening teeth and can worsen stains. Scientific studies show that the effects of charcoal toothpaste as a teeth whitening product are minimal and short-term at best.

Curiously, charcoal toothpaste may even damage the aesthetic appearance of your teeth over time. 

Since charcoal toothpaste removes stains through a mechanical means due to its abrasive property, it gradually wears down the tooth enamel. This exposes the layer underneath called dentin, which has a natural yellowish appearance.

While charcoal toothpaste helps clean teeth, there is little scientific proof it whitens teeth. In addition, tiny charcoal particles could accumulate in the cracks and chinks of older teeth, discoloring them. 

Moreover, the effect of charcoal on dental restorations like veneers, crowns, bridges, and white fillings could be undesirable. This is because charcoal particles can accumulate between them, leaving a gray or black outline.

What are Some Alternatives to Charcoal Toothpaste?

Alternatives to charcoal toothpaste include in-office teeth whitening procedures and safe bleaching products with the ADA seal. The whitening process is usually immediate if you opt for in-office procedures. Dentists typically use light-assisted products like Glo and Zoom for such procedures.

The dentist could also give you a whitening kit that you can use at home. Such kits often contain carbamide peroxide gel or other professional-grade whitening products. A good dentist will still monitor your progress as you use the kit.

The Journal of Applied Oral Science explains that charcoal toothpaste is not the most effective teeth whitening option in the short term. A comparative study of activated charcoal, hydrogen peroxide, blue covarine, and microbeads also showed that microbeads and hydrogen peroxide have the best whitening performance.

Therefore, most people go for alternative teeth whitening methods. While there are various ways to whiten teeth, you must consult your dentist to ensure you’ve got no underlying dental problems. 

They’ll give you professional advice depending on the condition of your teeth and gums. However, there are many identical products on the market as well, making it crucial to ask for an individual recommendation. A cookie-cutter approach doesn’t work well for everyone.

How Can I Prevent Stains on My Teeth?

Hands of young woman squeezing black charcoal toothpaste

To prevent stains on your teeth, maintain a good oral hygiene routine and avoid foods and beverages that discolor teeth. But let’s first discuss how stains form on teeth, so you understand how to prevent them.

How Stains Appear on Teeth

Poor dental health is the number one cause of stains on teeth. If you don’t brush or floss regularly, dental plaque will quickly build up on your teeth, staining them. Generally, your teeth can be discolored because of your lifestyle habits and overall dental health. These include:

  • Drinking beverages like tea, coffee, and red wine. 
  • Eating foods like blueberries.
  • Certain medications like antihistamines and treatments like chemotherapy.
  • Too much fluoride can lead to white spots on the teeth, a condition called fluorosis. This mainly occurs in children whose teeth are still forming.

Preventing Stains on Teeth

These are the practical ways to prevent stains from building up on your teeth:

  • Brush your teeth for 2 minutes twice a day.
  • Floss daily.
  • Cut down on foods and drinks that leave stains on your teeth. If you must drink beverages like cola and coffee, use a straw.
  • Drink plenty of water and rinse your mouth thoroughly when you take drinks that could stain your teeth.
  • Consult with your dentist before you use any teeth whitening product.
  • Avoid smoking too much if you find it hard to quit smoking altogether.

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