Istanbul, Turkey (AP) Turkey is cracking down on people who use charcoal tooth whiteners, a controversial practice that has been used to whiten teeth since the early 1990s.
In a letter to lawmakers on Tuesday, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the practice was no longer allowed, and would be banned in the coming weeks.
The practice was used to mask bleaching scars and the spread of bacteria from the environment, according to a report by the countrys health ministry.
Turkey is home to some 2.7 million people with bleaching scarring.
The scarring is caused by bacteria that are killed by the bacteria in the natural environment.
People with bleached or damaged teeth may not be able to eat for two months, and their teeth will have to be re-bronzed, the ministry said.
It also said the use of charcoal toothpaste or toothpastes could lead to cancer.
The health ministry has received calls for a ban on charcoal toothpasters from around the country.
Davutoglu has promised to implement a nationwide ban on the practice by 2020.
He said the ministry would send a warning letter to all dentists advising them of the ban and also offer compensation to the affected dentists.
A similar ban was introduced in the United States in 2003, after a study found the practice caused dental problems, including tooth damage and cavities.