Healthy Living: Dentist warns about charcoal teeth whitening products

If you're looking for a whiter smile, be warned, some products may do more harm than good.  That's the advice from Dr. Larry Kuhl with Delta Dental of Washington.

One of those products is charcoal.  Dr. Kuhl says charcoal has been around for hundreds of years, but only recently we're seeing it in beauty products.  Charcoal toothpastes and powders claim to remove dark and pesky stains like coffee, tea and red wine on the teeth.  Dr. Kuhl says although charcoal may temporarily whiten teeth, it can be abrasive and wear off the tooth enamel in the long term.

Because of that, Dr. Kuhl says people should talk to their dentist before trying this treatment.  For people who have been using charcoal already, Dr. Kuhl says it's best they stop using it and check in with their health care provider.

Another oral health trend- essential oils.  Like charcoal, essential oils have been around for years.   Oils are sold as a way to reduce inflammation, plaque, improve blood flow to the gums and fight bad breath.  They're sold on-line and also in stores.  The idea is to add a few drops to your toothpaste and let the oils go to work.  Dr. Kuhl says the jury's still out on the health risks of oils, but he sees potential benefits.

Dr. Kuhl says, "You have the mint which is an essential oil and that would control the bacteria of bad breath.  It could also help control some of the bacteria in the plaque which helps produce decay and periodontal disease."

For more advice on oral health, click here.