What You Need to Know Before Using Teeth Whitening Products

Activated charcoal toothpaste, over-the-counter whitening products and professional applied bleach products | by Advanced DDS

For the last two decades, the teeth whitening market has grown significantly and the American Dental Association (ADA) Council of Scientific Affairs has monitored the development of the increasing numbers of teeth whitening products. As the market for these products grow, not all have the ADA Seal of Acceptance. All products with the ADA Seal of Acceptance are shown to meet ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness.

With the increased use of teeth whitening products, it is advised for everyone to understand the risks and rewards of the top teeth whitening methods. We have checked in with dental professionals to find out whether activated charcoal toothpaste, over-the-counter whitening products and professional applied bleaching products are safe and effective.

Activated Charcoal Toothpaste

Activated charcoal toothpaste has been a popular teeth whitening method worldwide. With over thousands of positive reviews and branded as a natural way of whitening your teeth, it can easily mistaken as a safe and effective product. Activated charcoal is found in air filters, traditionally, hospitals and poison control centers to treat accident poisoning or a drug overdose. In the recent years, the superfine powder has made its way to the health and beauty market.

Charcoal Powder

According to American Dental Association spokesperson Dr. Kim Harms states; “there’s no evidence at all that activated charcoal does any good for your teeth”. It is unclear whether using active charcoal is safe, and the concern with using abrasives to brush teeth could have on the gums and enamel. “There’s no scientific indication that [activated charcoal] actually works and there are better options out there that do work” says Dr. Harms.

Dr. Mark Wolff, DDS, Professor and Chair of the Department of Cariology and Comprehensive Care at the New York University College of Dentistry said; “Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I still recommend any of the mainstream whitening toothpastes or seeing the dentist. The mainstream whitening toothpastes are going to be safe. There are a number of products on the market that can be too abrasive.”

If you are using a scrub that is too rough, you can wear away your enamel causing your dentin, a softer, yellow tissue, to be exposed. At this time, activated charcoal has not been given the ADA Seal of Acceptance and does not deliver fluoride.

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Whitening Products

There are many OTC whitening products available in supermarkets, drug stores or on the Internet. Products with the ADA Seal of Acceptance currently contain 10% carbamide peroxide.

It is recommended that you speak to your dentist before using any teeth whitening products. It’s important to first evaluate the current condition of your teeth. Then you should identify what your whitening goals are and decide what time and amount of money you are willing to spend on teeth whitening products.

Whitening Trays

According to the National Institutes of Health, OTC bleaching products may appear as a low-cost alternative to whitening your teeth without dentist supervision, however there is lack of clinical evidence regarding the safety and effectiveness of these products.

Results of these products may vary; however, concerns have appeared due to the potential abusive, especially in young patients, with potential harmful results. Reports have found patients leaving whitening products overnight or for long period of time resulting in sensitivity and harm to their enamel and gums.

Professionally Applied Bleaching Products:

Similar to OTC whitening products, there are many professional applied bleaching products used in dental offices. These bleaching products use hydrogen peroxide in concentration ranging from 25% to 40% and are sometimes used together with a light or laser. With the higher concentration of bleach, increased tooth sensitivity after the procedure is common side effect.

Professional Whitening

Your dentist will exam the health of your oral hygiene and determine if you are a candidate for a professional teeth whitening treatment. Professional cleaning by a hygienist may be required before bleaching can be applied. During your treatment, your gums will be protected either by isolation with a rubber dam or application of a gel. In-office professional procedure is typically complete within an hour to two hours.

Dental supervised whitening is one of the safest and effective teeth whitening treatment available.

Still Interested in Teeth Whitening?

Maintaining a healthy oral habit is one of the best natural way to keep your teeth whiten such as:

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes
  • Flossing your teeth once a day
  • Limiting foods and drinks that stains your teeth (coffee, tea, red wine, etc.)
  • Not smoking or using tobacco
  • Using ADA Seal of Acceptance whitening toothpaste

Talk to your dentist before you start using teeth whitening products. Whitening may not work on all teeth, and if you are a candidate for teeth whitening, there may be certain whitening methods that may be better for you and your teeth.


Demarco, F. F., S. S. Meireles, and A. S. Masotti. “Over-the-counter Whitening Agents: A Concise Review.” Brazilian Oral Research. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 20 July 2017.

“Natural Teeth Whitening: Fact vs. Fiction.” Mouth Healthy TM. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 July 2017.

“Statement on the Safety and Effectiveness of Tooth Whitening Products.” Tooth Whitening Products: ADA Statement on Safety and Effectiveness. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 July 2017.

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