Brushing your teeth with abrasive (grainy or gritty thick) toothpaste helps to remove bacteria, plaque and stains from your teeth. Unfortunately, if abrasive levels of toothpaste are too high, it may also wear out the natural enamel of your teeth. Over time this can lead to the long-term damage of teeth, such as enamel erosion.
It is important to note that once enamel has eroded, it is permanently gone with no available treatment to restore it. Enamel erosion may then advance the rate of decay since the dentin layer of the tooth is exposed.
With increasing trends on social media over recent years highlighting the benefits, the Dental Health Foundation has found that abrasive ingredients such as Chalk, Charcoal or Silica are commonly included in these products. Abrasive ingredients are more often found in teeth whitening tooth paste than standard tooth paste.
Initially, individuals may begin to feel the effects of abrasiveness through increased tooth sensitivity. The sensitivity is usually experienced through temperature, acidity or sweet foods.
When used sparingly toothpaste with medium to high abrasive levels are effective in cleaning the surface stains of teeth. This is a result from removing the top layer of stains, which can make teeth appear whiter. But, frequently using such toothpaste daily or weekly can eventuate to breaking down enamel.
Comparatively, it can be similar to using sandpaper to remove the top layer of staining on a surface.
Otherwise when used sparingly, abrasive natural toothpastes such as charcoal isn’t necessarily bad and can be effective in removing stains therefore resulting in whiter teeth temporarily.
Unfortunately with popular trends and accessibility to goods internationally online, determining the abrasive levels or safety of teeth whitening products has been difficult to regulate. Particularly since new products and brands are being released constantly.
Because each individuals current oral health varies, such as enamel strength, tooth decay, or sensitivity, it is important to consult a dentist regarding whitening. Procedures of whitening can then be explained or prescribed by a dentists for what would best suite a patients needs.
Products recommended by dentists are often regulated and clinically tested. While in comparison, products purchased online aren’t scientifically tested, may not be governed by a recognized health organisation, or may not be suitable for a person’s current oral health.
Alternatively, when purchasing or researching products (depending on the country), be sure to check the Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA). This is the measurement system developed by the American Dental Association (ADA) to assess toothpaste abrasiveness. This is sometimes identified or defined on a product with an ADA Seal of Acceptance. The higher an RDA score of a product, the higher the abrasive level. A toothpastes RDA must not be higher than 250. An RDA range of 0-70 is usually safe. The RDA helps to define the long-term effects of toothpastes on your enamel.
As an example of RDA scores, research has concluded the following results based on popular Colgate Toothpastes (ref familydentisttree.com):
- Colgate Total (RDA) 70
- Colgate Sensitive Max Strength (RDA) 83
- Colgate Total Whitening (RDA) 142
- Colgate Tartar Control (RDA) 165
At the moment, Charcoal Toothpastes haven’t received the Seal of Acceptance in the US since more studies, and laboratory research is required to be performed. (ref huffingtonpost.com.au)
The effects of activated Charcoal Toothpaste?
Used sparingly charcoal toothpaste can remove the top surface layer of lightly stained teeth. This is a result from the higher absorption of charcoal that allows it to remove unwanted surface stains making teeth appear whiter.
However, due it’s abrasiveness there are several reasons why Charcoal toothpaste should be avoided or used sparingly:
- Deteriorate Enamel
Enamel is the natural protective top layer of your teeth. Once enamel has deteriorated, it exposes the tooth to decay faster, which may result in more damage to the tooth.
- Effect on Gums
The abrasiveness of charcoal, may wear away at your gums. An often overlooked aspect of oral health, in the most severe cases a gum graft is required to repair extensively damaged gum areas.
- Irritation of soft tissue in the mouth.
Since charcoal is an uncommon substance in the mouth, it may irritate the soft tissue of the mouth that may potentially result in or effect ulcers, cuts or abrasions in your mouth.
- Charcoal toothpaste can harm your dental work.
As a result from its naturally dark colouring and abrasiveness, charcoal may effect artificial restorations on your previous dental work. This may include, Veneers, Dental Crowns or Bridges, Implants and Fillings.
- Charcoal toothpaste hasn’t been studied.
There has had little extensive long term research on Charcoal products. It is important to understand the importance of scientific lab research. Since little studies have been undertaken on Charcoal, it’s safer to recommend clinically tested and long established dental products rather than unknown products.