Your smile is one of the first things people notice about you; and if your teeth are stained and discolored, you may not be making a great first impression. It's why a lot of people are whitening their teeth.
Consumer expert Amy Davis put three teeth-whitening products to the test to find out which are most effective.
The videos on Facebook are hard to miss: people brushing their teeth with black charcoal powder. In other posts, the pictures of whites just too pearly almost look Photoshopped. They're all pitching whitening toothpaste.
Davis purchased three of the most popular DIY whiteners trending on social media and gathered four women to try them out. Before they used the product, Davis measured the true shade of their teeth with a dentist shade tooth guide.
"I've tried the white strips and didn't see a huge difference with those," Val Ridley told Davis.
Ridley and Dusty Norman tried My Magic Mud Activated Charcoal Tooth Whitening Powder. We bought it for $20 at HEB. The instructions tell you to add a small scoop of the charcoal powder on your toothbrush and start brushing. They say you should do this every evening for 2 minutes. It should not replace your regular brushing routine.
"It didn't feel nasty. It didn't taste nasty," said Norman "It's just there."
The charcoal was also *there* on Norman's lips; and it was hard to remove from the white porcelain sink where the women brushed their teeth. A Mr. Clean Magic Eraser finally did the trick.
Shelley Kruselsi tried Nu Skin AP-24 toothpaste. It is sold by individual distributors online for $20.
It is the only toothpaste in our test that contains fluoride. You're supposed to use AP-24 twice a day instead of your normal paste. Krusleki said it's vanilla minty flavor will make that easy.
"It tastes really good; and it's not gritty at all," Krusleski said.
Julia DeClaris tested Young Living Essential Oils Thieves Dentarome Ultra toothpaste.
Young Living Thieves is also sold by individual distributors for $11.51. It claims to be all natural without fluoride, dyes or preservatives. You use it twice a day in place of your regular toothpaste.
They all used the products for 6 days straight and then checked back in so we could check their teeth.
Before we reveal the results, we asked dentist Dr. Kevin Yeh of Signature Smiles to weigh in.
"Anytime there's not any fluoride in the toothpaste, I'm hesitant to recommend it," Yeh told Davis.
Only Nu Skin AP-24 has fluoride.
Yeh said some activated charcoal powders can be abrasive.
"It's basically like putting sandpaper on your teeth, fine sandpaper," Yeh cautioned.
"My gums did feel a little sensitive," said Norman, after she used the My Magic Mud for six days.
Norman said she found the charcoal irritating and time-consuming.
"It turned into like 7,8 or 9 minute ordeal to get it all off," she said.
The founder of My Magic Mud told us Norman may be brushing too aggressively and that their product is ground so fine it is not abrasive (read his full statement at the bottom of this article).
The good news is that Norman's and Ridley's teeth brightened by two shades after using My Magic Mud for six days.
The Young Living Thieves paste left DeClaris's teeth three shades whiter' and the AP-24 with fluoride did the same three-shade improvement for Krusleski.
None of these products have been approved by the FDA or recommend by the American Dental Association. That does not mean they are not safe... just that they have not been tested.
If you're interested in buying any of these products, click on the links below.
Nu Skin AP-24 is sold by individual distributors or online. If you don't know a distributor, Davis bought the one used in the test from Brittany Dixon. This is the direct link to her website that has her contact number and email: http://bdixon.nsproducts.com.
New Customers can go to the website above and Click on Join. This will allow you to create a customer account free of charge. Click on "All products" to find the AP-24 Toothpaste under Oral Care.
Young Living Essential Oils Thieves Dentarome Ultra toothpaste is sold by individual distributors. If you don't know one, Ashley Borden Solano sells it here.
You can buy My Magic Mud in HEB, Whole Foods Stores, Sprouts or online here:
Response from My Magic Mud:
"Regarding dentist claims against charcoal: You cannot make a categorical statement around the safety of activated charcoal for oral care. Some activated charcoal is, indeed, too abrasive, while others, depending on how it's processed, are safe - it depends on the particle size and overall formulation within the oral care products themselves.
"We, at My Magic Mud, have performed RDA (Relative Dentin Abrasion) and REA (Relative Enamel Abrasion) studies on our activated charcoal oral care line, which by American Dental Association standards, are within range of being safe. We don't know of any other activated charcoal brands that have performed these tests. (I've attached the tests and invoices)
"We have dentists all over the USA recommending our products to their patients who are looking for alternatives to conventional treatments. We have a great respect for dentists who offer these alternatives, because some people can really benefit from avoiding harsh chemical treatments. These more conventional treatments work, but they can take a toll on your health and be a drain on your pocket book. Dentists cannot deny the intense sensitivity and pain that follows whitening treatments.
"We think dentists who make these sweeping generalizations around activated charcoal, do it because they care about their patients and because they have a healthy skepticism of practices they weren't introduced to in dental school or peer publications; however we invite them to look at the objective standards for measuring safety when analyzing activated charcoal by itself and as a part of a greater ingredient deck in oral care products."
- Justin Arman, President of My Magic Mud