At the Oral Health Foundation, we love the holidays however we are asking people to be extra careful as to what is on their wish list this year. You may want that dazzling bright and perfect smile to really impress at that party. Often people try to take shortcuts to get those results, but you may not get what you want.

Charcoal in your stocking.

There have been far more products containing activated charcoal these past years. Activated charcoal isn’t the kind you grill with, which may contain all sorts of chemicals and ingredients that are harmful to your skin and mouth Regular charcoal combines coal, peat, wood pulp, petroleum and coconut shells and should not be consumed.  This type of charcoal should only be used on your barbeque.

 In contrast, activated charcoal is a powder comprised of wood, bamboo, coal, or coconut shells that have been burned at a very high temperature.   It has gained popularity as an effective at-home tooth whitener.

Unfortunately, activated charcoal has little or no effect on the colour of your teeth, at best it may remove staining on your teeth.

Straightening your own teeth

There is a trend currently influenced by a lot of social media to try to straighten your own teeth. People have used everything from rubber bands to pieces of dental floss and paper clips to correct the angle of their teeth quickly. This can be incredibly dangerous as many orthodontic procedures are done slowly over months so as not to hurt and damage your mouth by putting too much pressure on the teeth, jawbone and gums.

You could also potentially cut into the soft tissues of your mouth by using objects that were not designed to go in between your teeth. If your teeth need straightening please talk to a qualified dentist.


Following on from inappropriate objects for teeth straightening, many still try to clean their teeth with objects not designed to go between teeth. After eating popcorn on string many over the holiday season can be tempted to use it as dental floss. Wooden toothpicks which can be used to hold mini hotdogs for those famous party appetizers are delicious, but your gums won’t thank you as they can also cause them damage – especially if they splinter.

You should only use products to clean your teeth that have been designed for dental use, in your mouth otherwise you may be causing a lot of unnecessary damage to your dental health.

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas

Other ways people want a white Christmas is for their teeth through DIY whitening products at home. There is of course nothing wrong with wanting to look your best, but you need to be careful with how you use them. It is an unfortunate reality that many kits that can be bought online are not safe as they often contain much higher levels of chemicals than is safe.

Often this is in the form of hydrogen peroxide shipped in from overseas where there aren’t as stringent laws behind their production and distribution. Whenever using products, you should always check their origin and what they contain.

Nail filing or…

Everyone can get self-care or manicure sets as stocking fillers that contain many tools to cut, clip and file your nails. Unfortunately, on TikTok, there was a trend of using nail files to reshape teeth to make them appear straighter. While this can be cultural – if you are doing this yourself purely for cosmetic reasons you will be doing far more damage and could make the appearance of your teeth worse and permanently damage the enamel.

It can get deep into enamel making your teeth far more prone to dental decay and potentially killing the nerve inside the tooth.