What Is Activated Charcoal?
Charcoal is a product of Carbon, with Carbon being a chemical element found in the Earth. Depending on how atoms are bonded, Carbon can result in various forms, including diamonds, plastic and graphite pencils. Charcoal can be made in two different ways—one using a chemical-activation method and one using a steam-activation method. In both methods, there are tiny pores created in the Carbon. The larger the surface area of the pores created, there is more of a surface to attract and hold organic materials.
What does this mean in terms of teeth? Well, activated charcoal began making headlines when people realized that it could be used to attract organic build up on teeth, including plaque and other acids on tooth enamel. The result of using activated charcoal is said to be “outstanding” with users reporting that their teeth look brighter and their colour is restored.
Activated charcoal is usually found in tablet form. The reason for this is because activated charcoal is used for a variety of medicinal purposes including digestive problems and poisoning if administered fast enough by a medical professional. In terms of teeth whitening, users need to take activated charcoal tablets and grind them into a dust, add some water and create a paste.
The 2 Main Problems with Activated Charcoal for Teeth Whitening
Problem #1: The Method of Use
If you’ve seen the media sweep of videos and articles with people testing how activated charcoal works on teeth, you’ll notice that users are putting activated charcoal on their toothbrushes and brushing like normal. Brushing your teeth with activated charcoal paste can be harmful to your teeth, and even toothpastes that are marketed as having activated charcoal can be harmful.
Like we mentioned above, activated charcoal works to draw in and hold materials. But this can also means that it takes away some of the good things on your teeth, like enamel. With daily or semi-regular use, this can work away some of the hardened enamel. This creates a two-fold problem—the initial problem being that there are small pores created on the surface of teeth. If these pores continue to grow, it can lead to a more complicated problem of tooth sensitivity and formation of cavities.
Problem #2: There’s More Than Meets the Eye
The stains and discolouration on your teeth go deeper than the surface. While surface discolouration can happen because of foods, drinks and smoking, there are also internal causes for discolouration such as tooth trauma and antibiotics, and general aging. Internal discolouration goes beyond he enamel and inside the tooth (the dentin).
People who are trying to remove stains with activated charcoal may be brushing to remove the stains and discolouration on their teeth, but cannot get further than the surface at best. This is why it is important to talk to a dentist to see the cause of discolouration. A dentist will be able to tell you the difference between enamel discolouration and dentin discoloration. From here, your dentist can help you plan how to take care of the discolouration using safe dental practices.
So How Should You Approach Teeth Whitening?
Don’t buy into the hype of activated charcoal for teeth whitening just because it is a “cost-effective home remedy” for discoloured teeth. Taking care of the teeth means that you should not only look at the cost of dental work in the moment, but how the cost carries into the long-term. In the long-term, activated charcoal will do more harm to your teeth than good and can lead to more costly dental procedures to fix these problems.
Guelph Dentist Office With Teeth Whitening Solutions
Teeth whitening is something that you and your dentist need to talk about in order to see effective results while adhering to safe practices.
At Stonegate Dental, we have many patients that come in asking about teeth whitening and what we recommend. For the most part, we wouldn’t recommend using over-the-counter teeth whitening kits. These kits are generically designed for what the industry believes in a standard mouth. Sometimes this means that the teeth whitening trays are too large for a patient’s teeth or that the whitening solution is too strong for the patient.
By coming to our Dentist Office, Dr. Nancy Wat and her team of dental hygienists can create a custom teeth whitening plan that is safe and effective for your needs. Stonegate Dental uses a Custom Tray Whitening system to whiten teeth, taking into account your dental history, your mouth and what whitening results you would like to see.
For Custom Tray Whitening, Dr. Wat will meet with you during an appointment to take an impression of your teeth. A stone model will be created from the impression and a custom tray is made to fit for your follow up appointment. In your follow up appointment, you will learn how to use the Custom Tray Whitening System, and learn how the whitening solution changes the appearance of your teeth. If you work with the instructions given, you will be able to see results in a reasonable time frame as discussed between you and Dr. Wat. Our Guelph Dentist office likes to keep track of how patients are progressing with their Custom Tray Whitening by by recording what colour a patient’s teeth were before and after.
Dr. Wat can also help patients who have further internal tooth discolouration problems affecting the dentin. In some cases when a tooth is discoloured from injuries or underlying problems, Custom Tray Whitening may be ineffective as a long-term solution. In cases such as these, there are treatment options available for overall oral health and cosmetic purposes.
In addition to Custom Tray Whitening, we recommend that our patients maintain their overall oral health by brushing, flossing, and coming in for dental cleanings and complete oral examinations. At home, patients can also use Canadian Dental Association approved toothpastes with whitening agents to accompany their Custom Tray Whitening results.
If you are interested in learning about Custom Tray Whitening solutions from our Guelph Dentist Office, please get in contact with us. We would be happy to set up a consultation appointment for your dental needs.