Does charcoal actually whiten teeth? Dentist breaks down common dental myths

LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Eyewitness News spoke with Dr. Kami Hoss about common dental myths and misconceptions. Whatch now!

Is sugar really what’s behind your cavities?

“It is true, but I just want the audience to know that your cavity is more than just sugar and not brushing your teeth because really that’s what is typically said. There’s a lot of other factors like what’s missing from a diet like vitamin D and K2 and calcium. But yes, on the surface that’s a true ‘myth,'” Hoss said.

Does charcoal actually work to whiten teeth? Is it safe?

The abrasion from the charcoal may work initially, but dentists say over time your pearly whites, won’t be so white.

“Do not brush with charcoal toothpaste or charcoal bristles because charcoal can literally damage your enamel… A lot of toothpastes and mouthwash these days have that ingredient as a natural way of whitening your teeth that help your teeth.. But please do not use charcoal because it whitens your teeth but it damages long term,” Hoss said.

The American Dental Association also warns against other at-home whitening techniques. Acidic ingredients like apple cider vinegar, lemons, or baking soda can also wear down your enamel. Enamel protects your teeth from cavities and tooth sensitivity.

Plus, dentists say there is no evidence techniques like oil pulling or using spices like turmeric will your brighten your smile. Instead, here’s what experts recommend:

  • Brush regularly and have regular dentist visits
  • Use whitening toothpastes with the ADA’s “seal of acceptance”
  • Limit foods that can stain your teeth, like tea, coffee and red wine

Dentists also say you shouldn’t always rinse after you brush, even with mouth wash. That’s because fluoride toothpaste helps keep your teeth protected from bacteria and plaque.

And you probably knew this one wasn’t a myth – you really do need to brush your teeth day and night.

“If you don’t brush routinely twice a day, there is a higher risk of mortality, because of all these connections, by about 20% to 35%. So there is a high risk of you actually dying from all these other systemic health issues if you don’t brush and floss routinely and use the other oral care products routinely and effectively,” Hoss said.

But before you start vigorously brushing and flossing away, dentists warn not go overboard.

“Unfortunately we have two groups of people – the group that neglected oral health, and the group that overzealously scrub their teeth and use disinfectant…Let’s say you have an orchard you and you have some weeds growing. You want to remove the weeds as you’re taking care of the orchard in general. That’s how you should be approaching your oral health. You want to take care of your teeth and mouth gently yet effectively with the right healthy oral care products,” Hoss said.

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