If you are under 60 years of age, there is a good chance that you may have heard the term “hashtag”. If you’re under 50, you might actually know what it means. In case you are unsure or were to shy to ask, a hashtag is simply a number sign (#) placed in front of a word or phrase that allows people to categorize or search messages on a specific topic, while also providing a mechanism to begin a conversation on various social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Simply, it is a way to keep track of trending topics on social media.

Unfortunately, not all trends are good. Here are two dental health-related trends you should avoid:

Activated Charcoal charcoal

Garnering over 1.5 million views on YouTube, the newest do-it-yourself remedy to whiten your teeth involves brushing activated charcoal on your teeth. Found in capsule form online or in health stores, activated charcoal is a special type of charcoal that is used in medicine for its absorptive properties, specifically for trapping chemicals and removing unwanted toxins.

The reality: What’s worse than brushing black charcoal on your teeth? Probably knowing that there is no scientific evidence that teeth are whiter or brighter after use. More importantly, because the abrasiveness of the charcoal varies, the tooth enamel may be subject to wear, deterioration and erosion, resulting in unwanted sensitivity or even cavities.

Oil Pulling oil-pulling

Oil pulling has been used to treat various health issues for thousands of years and has become the “it” trend in oral health for the last few years. The belief is that toxins and bacteria are trapped or “pulled” by the oil, while also treating dry mouth to minimize the inflammation of the gum tissues, and treat gum disease. It is reported to whiten the teeth also.

The reality: Although there are few studies and very limited evidence that oil pulling helps in the treatment of gingivitis and bad breath, there is no reliable scientific evidence that oil pulling results in whiter teeth. However oil pulling requires a lot of time and effort. (Try swishing water in your mouth for 20 minutes and see how tired you are afterwards.) If you elect to use oil pulling, it should be done in conjunction with traditional, proven techniques such as brushing, flossing and water picks.

Source: Smart Mouth, a publication of the Texas Dental Association, Winter 2017