Will Charcoal Toothpaste Whiten Your Teeth?

By: Dr. Sharanya Srinivasa DMD

It seems like you cannot open your Instagram explore page these days without seeing someone brushing their teeth with a sludgy charcoal mixture. What is this stuff? Will it make my teeth whiter?

Charcoal toothpaste is made of activated charcoal, a type of carbon with tiny pores that increase the absorption of chemical reactions. I hate to break it to you, but there is no dental research showing that activated charcoal toothpaste is an effective way to whiten teeth in comparison to professional whitening treatments. In fact, the American Dental Association warns activated charcoal may be too abrasive for tooth enamel.

From my personal experience seeing patients who used charcoal toothpaste (even 1 time per week), the results were not promising. The charcoal powder became embedded in a pocket in-between the tooth and the gum. This formed a gray line below all of the gums. The charcoal also gave a grayish tint to the gums.  However, there was no noticeable whiteness. It appeared that the charcoal made the gums darker in shade, causing the tooth to appear whiter. Hence, not actually whitening the tooth itself.

In my opinion, charcoal toothpaste tricks you into thinking you are naturally whitening your teeth. You  need to brush extremely hard to get the charcoal toothpaste off, causing you to brush more which may give the illusion of a whiter smile. Do not waste time and energy (and tooth enamel!) on this product.

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Are Dental X-Rays Harmful?

By: Dr. Sharanya Srinivasa DMD

Many of my patients arrive to their appointment with questions and concerns about dental x-rays. Dental x-rays are very safe compared to medical x-rays. The amount of radiation is relatively low.

An interesting fact is that every day we are exposed to radiation. Everything in our environment gives off a certain amount of radiation. For example the sun gives off a certain amount of radiation but you wouldn’t spend your life avoiding sunlight. Unless you are a vampire. All joking aside, dental x-rays are one of the lowest doses of radiation within the medical field. In a routine exam, we take 4 bitewing x-rays which is .005 mSv. This is less than 1 day of natural background radiation. It is the same amount of radiation when you fly in a plane for 1-2 hours.

You may be wondering, “Why does my dentist need to take dental x-rays?” Dental x-rays are helpful for many reasons. They help us find decay inbetween teeth that may not be visible to the naked eye. X-rays also help us check for bone loss, cysts, abscesses, infection on the root, and decay under fillings. Dentists may also need to get an x-rays of the bones and teeth before any procedures they perform and to diagnose periodontal disease.

Dental x-rays are a safe, and important part of dental care. X-ray technology helps find dental issues at an early stage, which saves patients time, money and discomfort.

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Fluoride 101

By: Dr. Sharanya Srinivasa DMD

What is fluoride and why is it used in dental care? Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in many foods, as well as city water in certain places. Some natural sources of fluoride are brewed tea, canned fish, cooked kale, spinach, apples, and skim milk.

A lack of fluoride makes you more prone to cavities. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making your tooth enamel more resistant to acid attacks from plaque and acidic foods.The dentist also gives fluoride treatments during the routine cleanings, predominantly for children. This help keeps cavities from forming. Adults can also benefit from fluoride.

Research has shown that communities that have fluoride in the tap water have less cavities than communities that do not fluoridate their water supply.  The amount of fluoride in water is very low and does not cause health related side effects but is needed to maintain oral health.

It is recommended that you have a fluoride treatment once every 6 months. Especially is you are prone to cavities.

How to Care for Young Children’s Teeth

By: Dr. Srinivasa DMD

Teaching children about oral hygiene at a young age is extremely important. With the right techniques, you can prevent your child from developing cavities.

For children ages 6 months to 2 years old, make sure you use a swallow-safe toothpaste. Use a finger toothbrush (shown below) in a circular motion. Never let young children sleep with a bottle of milk in their mouth, this causes cavities.

Children ages 3-10 need to brush 2 times a day. Make sure you are brushing your child’s teeth after they brush on their own. Children tend to skip their back teeth. Use a fluoride toothpaste and a fluoride mouthwash, as fluoride prevents cavities from forming.

Dr. Srinivasa treats children and adults in Secaucus, New Jersey.

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Silicon finger tooth brush for babies Paramount Dental Care Secaucus New Jersey Dr Srinivasa dental tips caring for baby teeth smile makeover