Common medical questions and answers through blogs and articles

Charcoal Whitening And Other Natural Ways to Whiten Teeth

Society wants us to look younger longer and we strive mightily to get this done.

Healthy living and a good diet translate to clearer skin, and overall general well-being.  You can hit the gym to keep muscles from atrophying and stay in great physical shape.  But, unfortunately, there are a few wrinkles, if you’ll pardon the pun, that we cannot reverse in the ongoing aging process.  A little nip and tuck will correct those wrinkles and leave the face taut and free of sagging skin.  But, one of the telltale signs of aging is the diminished luster and dulling of our pearly whites, which often are telltale signs that we are getting on in years.

Regular hygienist visits to remove the plaque and eliminate those nasty tea, coffee or red wine stains from our teeth will help somewhat, but, more and more, we must resort to an artificial means to keep those teeth bright and white, like “Zoom”, a popular teeth-bleaching process.  It is a treatment used around the world to lighten the discoloration of enamel and dentin.  A consultation with a good dentist will help you understand this in-office tooth-whitening procedure and what it can do for you.  This non-painful procedure is performed by your dentist who uses the “Zoom Advanced Power Chair side Lamp”, which device is said to accelerate the bleaching process.  That process involves activating a 25 percent hydrogen peroxide whitening agent.  As the agent is broken down, oxygen enters the enamel and dentin to bleach the stained substances, leaving the structure of the tooth unchanged and each tooth whiter and brighter.  It is effective, but it is a little pricey.  On average, the treatment costs $500.00, which includes supplemental take-home trays to maximize the results.  Unfortunately, “Zoom”, like most cosmetic dentistry treatments, are not covered by dental insurance.

But don’t despair, because there are other options to whiter and brighter teeth available.

Natural process for whitening teeth

Many people swear by a paste of baking soda and water to keep teeth looking white.  While baking soda is a natural product, and “scouring” your tooth’s enamel with such a paste would seem to be helpful, sometimes scrubbing just a tad too vigorously will wear down the tooth enamel.  For people who routinely grind their teeth, or have a severe malocclusion, or improper bite, there is already stress on that tooth enamel and vigorous scrubbing with an abrasive agent between hygienist visits could be problematic.

Toothpaste for a brighter smile

A trip to the toothpaste section of your local store can leave you scratching your head over what type to buy.  Often your dental visit ends with a handshake, a new toothbrush and mini samples of floss and toothpaste.  There are tartar-control toothpastes created specifically to control tartar, thus giving the illusion of more luster to your teeth.  They work well for some, but others have allergies to, or significant cheek cell sloughing after using this product.   It is because those type of toothpastes contain tetrasodium pyrophosphate, an ingredient that is supposed to keep calcium phosphate salts (tartar, or calculus) from building up on the back of your lower front teeth.  To persons who are sensitive to this high pH product, the cells on their cheeks will literally slough off after you rinse your mouth with water.  Beware… a little tartar build-up is not going to damage your teeth – regular brushing and flossing will help to keep it under control and keep your teeth from looking dingy as well.

Natural white teeth

We learned that baking powder is a good option, but you must use it in moderation to avoid stripping that precious enamel covering from your teeth because of straight baking soda’s abrasive properties.  If holistic health remedies are your shtick, be sure to try strawberry mash.  Many people swear by strawberries for bright and white teeth.  This is because strawberries contain malic acid, a natural enamel whitener. But, you don’t eat those strawberries whole and please don’t dip them in chocolate! The secret to white teeth is found by pulverizing the strawberries and creating a mixture that is applied to your teeth.  Simply crush a strawberry to a pulp, mix it with baking soda, and spread it on your teeth using a soft toothbrush.  It is a safe and easy way to whiten the teeth.

Holistic medicine

If you want to move beyond baking soda and strawberries to keep your teeth looking good, the trend is toward using activated charcoal as a do-it-yourself fix for dingy-looking teeth.

Is it safe?

Activated charcoal has been around for years – it is not a trending concept.  It was an ancient medicine technique, so it is hardly new, but, the idea recently resurfaced via the internet and YouTube, and soon that video went viral.  Before long it became the go-to miracle ingredient to whiten teeth.

Activated charcoal is not much different than those briquettes you toss into the barbeque to cook up your hotdogs and hamburgers.  However, this is an oxidized version, and its natural adhesive qualities cause it to bind with surface stains like coffee, tea, wine, and even plaque, literally stripping those offending items from your teeth and there they go down the drain when you spit it out.  Well, that’s all good as to the removal of those offensive stains, but, if you have teeth which are naturally darker or yellowish in color, you will need to rely on an over-the-counter bleaching agent or have an in-office treatment like “Zoom”.  Unbelievably, there are sixteen different shades of natural teeth, so perhaps bleaching your teeth may leave you no longer looking like YOU!

Since we always want to look our best, we tend to latch onto “quick fixes” to allow us to present our best face to the world.  Often we are mesmerized by easy solutions, and act before completely thinking things through.  Of course, you don’t want to trifle with just any old substance, whether it whitens your teeth or not.  Be assured that this finely ground powder is odorless, tasteless and easy to ingest.  It is Kosher, sold in health food stores in tablet and powder form and available on Amazon as well.  For now, the American Dental Association states that it is undetermined if activated charcoal’s excessive gritty properties and vigorous scrubbing of the substance could wear down the precious enamel of your teeth.  Losing enamel on your teeth eventually causes extreme sensitivity to hot and cold.

There are some other considerations before you go all gung ho on activated charcoal.  While this product does indeed take the tartar off the teeth and your teeth will get whiter,  it may also bind to medications that the body needs to absorb, and even bacteria that you need for digestion.

Cosmetic dentistry is a big business as is the tooth-whitening product market, and, until activated charcoal becomes a mainstream option for white teeth, you might want to just reconsider occasional natural brightening agents like the aforementioned baking soda and strawberries or undergoing a dentist-recommended procedure like “Zoom” to make those teeth sparkle.

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