New teeth whitening trend may cause long-term damage

By Erin Brookshier - Virginia Today Reporter

Local dentists are speaking out about a new teeth whitening trend they say may cause damage in the long run. 

One of the biggest issues with the activated charcoal trend is the lack of research or evidence. Dr. Claire Farr At Valley Family Dentistry says so far there’s been no clinical trials on the benefits or even the safety of using these products. 

The extreme black color of the activated charcoal powders or toothpaste is a clear giveaway that this is different than most kinds of toothpaste. Despite that bizarre look and lack of support from the American Dental Association, these activated charcoal toothpastes are blowing up in popularity, with more than 1,000 products currently for sale on Amazon and even more do-it-yourself tutorials on sites like Pinterest and Instagram. 

But doctors say the gritty texture of the product could be causing more harm than good. While we may see whiter teeth initially, using these abrasive products could lead to long-term damage.  

“Be cautious of any DIY whitening, you don’t know long-term what you may be doing,” says Dr. Farr. “You may be getting an immediate gratification and getting whiter teeth, but you don’t know in the long run what’s happening to your teeth. Once you’ve lost the enamel, the only way to cover up the yellowness or cover up anything is to put a filling there. It doesn’t regenerate it all. So once it’s gone it’s gone.“

Despite its popularity with stars like the rapper Drake and beauty bloggers, dentists say their biggest concern is about the abrasiveness of the product. With no studies conducted, they say long-term damage is a major issue. 

“It’s really abrasive and wearing away our outer layer, which is an enamel, it can expose the inner layer, which is dentin and that’s actually more yellow, I can make your teeth more sensitive and more susceptible to cavities,” says Dr. Farr. “ that’s a concern, because we don’t know long-term what’s going on there and there haven’t been any studies to show that.”

As far as safe teeth whitening goes, she says it’s best to stick to the basics. Brushing and flossing twice a day can make the biggest difference in preventing the stains to begin with. She says it’s also important to avoid coffee soda and red wine, all known to stain our teeth.

If you do want to whiten your teeth, use American dental Association approved methods, like a whitening toothpaste or white strips that have been tested to be safe. There are also professional whitening methods, just speak with your dentist to learn more about those.

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