You’ve most likely seen articles on charcoal activated beauty masks and body scrubs. Beauty bloggers swear by it. So, it’s only natural that activated charcoal has made its way to the oral care aisle. But, before you go running out to the grill to grab some briquettes, let’s discuss exactly what it is, why it’s all the buzz and whether or not you should incorporate it into your oral care routine.
Activated charcoal is a super fine black powder, that processed at a very high temperature, which changes the internal structure of the charcoal to make it more porous. For toothpaste (and other beauty products), it is often a combination of food-grade activated charcoal and coconut shell.
It most definitely is not the same stuff used to light your barbecue! Activated charcoal has been used in health and beauty care for centuries. These days, it is all the rage as a superfood and potent natural treatment for many ailments -from getting a bug out of your system, gut health to lowering cholesterol, hangover cures and what we are most interested in – teeth whitening and oral health.
Because of its porous nature, it is a natural detoxifier. It acts like a magnet in body, soaking up and trapping toxins and chemicals, preventing their absorption.
When it comes to using activated charcoal to brush your teeth is said to whiten them. It would make sense – an abrasive material that absorbs plaque and other teeth-staining compounds. But, the jury is still out on this. It is also believed to treat everything from bad breath, oral ulcers to bleeding gums, and keeping oral diseases at bay.
Companies that make activated charcoal toothpaste also claim that the activated charcoal can remove toxins from the teeth and gums, which can lift stains from your teeth and leave you with a whiter smile.
WHAT WE THINK: Let this fad fade away
While generally safe to use, there are no long-term studies on activated charcoal as an ingredient in toothpaste and the ADA has not yet approved any charcoal teeth whitening products. So, over time, we don’t know about effect on enamel as well as gum tissue over time. We also don’t know how it might interact with medications if accidentally swallowed or healthy oral bacteria.
Also, brushing teeth with activated charcoal can actually have the opposite effect, especially if used too frequently! Because it is an abrasive substance, it can wear away at the enamel exposing the dentin underneath, which has a natural, yellow-ish color. Plus, since brushing with activated charcoal increases the roughness of tooth enamel, which can make it easier for bacteria to stick to the surface. That can put you at risk of greater plaque accumulation, more cavities, and even periodontal disease.
If you decide to try it, no more than once a week or every other week. HOWEVER, we strongly recommend that you wait for more studies to be done. While activated charcoal as a toothpaste may date back to Ancient Rome, we’ve come a long, long way since then. Traditional (and carefully studied) teeth whitening toothpastes and procedures are often safer and more effective. Skip the fads.
Still want to know more? We can answer any questions, set you up with an appointment and get you on your way to a brighter smile. Or, you can leave us a note in the comments below or reach us on Facebook.
Don’t forget to ask about our new Spring Cleaning promotion! Free Dental Cleaning when you schedule your in-office teeth bleaching. *
*New patients only