From specialty toothpastes to at-home treatments, the search for whiter, brighter teeth is constantly evolving. Activated charcoal has become a popular choice for people who want a natural-based, easy, and inexpensive way to whiten their teeth at home.
But does activated charcoal really whiten your teeth? Are there any risks to using active charcoal as a whitening treatment? Before you rush to add it to your online shopping cart, let’s take a look at activated charcoal for oral health and whether it’s really worth it.
Why Activated Charcoal?
First things first: what is activated charcoal? This fine, black powder is created by oxidizing natural substances like wood, coal, olive shells, or coconut shells under extreme heat. Its ability to filter out impurities makes it a common element in water filtration systems or even as a means to promote better gut health when ingested.
This natural ability to filter impurities may be part of the reason why activated charcoal is being applauded as a means to lift stains and whiten teeth. But just because it can help remove impurities and toxins from the body doesn’t mean that it removes mouth-based impurities like plaque, bacteria, and stains.
Risks of Activated Charcoal Toothpaste
While countless bloggers and beauty gurus have reported seeing real whitening benefits from activated charcoal, it’s important to note that dental research has yet to do the same. In fact, a study published by the Journal of the American Dental Association was unable to conclusively prove that charcoal-based treatments were effective—or safe.
If you do want to try activated charcoal out for yourself, keep in mind that there may be some risks involved, such as:
- Abrasiveness – Activated charcoal may wear down the enamel on your teeth, making your mouth vulnerable to bacteria, cavities, and tooth decay. That abrasiveness might even make those stains more visible by exposing dentin, a light yellow layer of tissue below the enamel surface. If you’re using activated charcoal to remove surface stains, you may unintentionally end up creating more.
- Cleaning properties – Studies have not been able to show that activated charcoal can effectively rid your mouth of bacteria. Because of that, an activated charcoal product may not be a good substitute for your toothpaste. And unless it’s been added, activated charcoal toothpaste does not contain fluoride, which means you won’t be protected from tooth decay.
- Unknown effects on restorations – The effects that activated charcoal might have on dental restoration work is yet unknown. If you have a filling, crown, veneer, or bridge, you may want to stay away from activated charcoal until more research has been conducted.
- Sensitivity – When used on a daily basis, the fine powder from activated charcoal products may cause increased levels of tooth sensitivity. If you are prone to tooth sensitivity already, you may not want to use activated charcoal.
Activated charcoal is likely safe to use—and perhaps even effective—in small doses, depending on your unique situation. The best approach is to talk to your dentist about activated charcoal toothpaste first to see if it is a good option for you. And if you are looking for a truly effective, safe, and long-lasting way to whiten your teeth, don’t hesitate to reach out to Steger Smiles to make a teeth whitening appointment!