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 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 the enamel has eroded, there are no treatments to restore it. Enamel erosion may then advance the decay rate since the tooth’s dentin layer is exposed.
With increasing trends on social media, the Dental Health Foundation has found abrasive elements, including Chalk, Charcoal or Silica, used in teeth whitening products.
Initially, individuals may begin to feel the effects of abrasiveness through increased tooth sensitivity. Individuals experience sensitivity to temperature, acidity or sweet foods.
When used sparingly, toothpaste with medium to high abrasive levels effectively cleans the surface stains of teeth. As a result, removing the top layer stains can make teeth appear whiter. But, frequently using this toothpaste daily or weekly can eventuate breaking down enamel.
There are similarities between ‘Abrasive toothpaste’ and sandpaper, whereby low-grade sandpaper can remove surface stains.
Otherwise, when used sparingly, natural abrasive toothpaste such as charcoal isn’t necessarily bad and can effectively remove stains, resulting in whiter teeth temporarily.
Unfortunately, with popular trends and accessibility to goods online, determining the clinical safety of whitening products has been difficult to regulate.
Because an individual’s current oral health varies, such as enamel strength, tooth decay, or sensitivity, it is essential to consult a dentist regarding whitening. A dentist can then explain or prescribe whitening procedures for what would best suit a patient’s needs.
Products recommended by dentists are often regulated and clinically tested. While in comparison, the negative factors of teeth whitening products that are available online include:
- not clinically tested,
- may not be governed by a recognised health organisation
- or may not be suitable for a person’s current oral health
Alternatively, when purchasing or researching products (depending on the country), check the Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA). The RDA is the measurement system developed by the American Dental Association (ADA) to assess toothpaste abrasiveness.
The RDA help to identify or detail a product the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
The RDA helps to define the long-term effects of toothpaste on your enamel. The higher an RDA score of a product, the higher the abrasive level. A toothpaste RDA must not be higher than 250. An RDA range of 0-70 is usually safe.
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 are required. (ref huffingtonpost.com.au)
The effects of activated Charcoal Toothpaste?
Charcoal toothpaste, when used rarely, can remove the top surface layer of lightly stained teeth. Charcoal has a higher absorption rate that allows it to remove unwanted surface stains making teeth appear whiter.
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 the enamel has deteriorated, it exposes the tooth to decay faster, resulting 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, 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 mouth’s soft ti, potentially resulting in or affecting ulcers, cuts, or abrasions in your mouth.
- Charcoal toothpaste can harm your dental restorations
As a result of its naturally dark colouring and abrasiveness, charcoal may affect teeth restorations from previous dental work. Restorative dental may include, Dentures, Veneers, Dental Crowns or Bridges, Implants and Fillings.
- Professional clinicians have not extensively researched charcoal toothpaste.
There has had little extensive long term research on Charcoal products. It is essential to understand the importance of scientific lab research. Since charcoal toothpaste has only undergone a few clinical studies, it’s safer to recommend clinically tested and long established dental products rather than unknown products.