by Dr. Pooneh Ramezani, DDS
I often get asked if charcoal is safe to use in a toothpaste. Common questions I get are "Is charcoal bad for teeth?" or "Is charcoal abrasive on enamel?"
In the past few years, many charcoal based teeth whitening products have appeared in the market. These products include toothpaste, tooth powder and as of recently, mouthwashes.
These products almost always look black in color. Charcoal powder is the worst of all. This is because it is not hygienic to dip your toothbrush in the powder every day. There is a big chance of bacterial contamination.
These tooth powders are also very messy and get everywhere around your sink and bathroom, which believe me, it is not something you want. It is not recommended to use toothpaste or powder that has the ingredient charcoal listed as the first ingredient.
This means that the majority of the product is made out of charcoal. Although charcoal is a great adsorbent, which means that it helps get rid of bad breath and could help whiten teeth, it is abrasive and could hurt your teeth and cause enamel abrasion.
As a consumer you need to read labels and make sure that the ingredients used in your daily oral care products are safe at the amounts used.
This means that less than 1% of the formula is charcoal. We use only enough amounts of fine activated charcoal powder to be effective but not to overpower the formula and be abrasive to the enamel.
Next time you are ready to purchase a product, pay attention to the list of ingredients and their hierarchy on the list.
The first ingredient on the list is the major component of that product, therefore be cautious and make sure in the amounts used, the ingredient is still safe. If you don't understand the latin words, Google it.
You will be surprised how much you can find out by just spending a few minutes and researching. It's also a great idea to teach kids what to look for and how to read labels.
In the U.S., there are few regulations on ingredients used in products compared to other countries. In Europe over 1,200 ingredients are banned.
In order for products to be registered and sold in Europe, they need to go through comprehensive ingredient checks. Consumers don't need to worry about the safety of ingredients used.
In the U.S., however, we need to be our own police and research ingredients to make sure they are safe to use. A little effort will go a long way.
Hope this article was helpful.
Cheers to your health,
Pooneh Ramezani DDS, CEO Dr. Brite
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