- What Is Activated Charcoal?
- Pro: Teeth Whitening
- Pro: Treats Bad Breath
- Con: Abrasive
- Con: Unknown Long Term Effects
It may sound absurd but whitening your teeth using charcoal is currently one of the biggest trends in the world. Using activated charcoal is not only limited for dental use but is also popular for cosmetics purposes. Face masks, scrubs and other beauty products containing charcoal are very popular and are even endorsed by celebrities. This endorsement, as well as rampant circulation of videos about it, gained it some form of legitimacy. But how legit is it? Does it really work?
What Is Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal and the charcoal that we use for barbecue are basically the same. The main difference is that activated charcoal is processed using high heat to purge it of the chemicals and substances that are harmful to us. This process not only “cleans” it but also makes it impossible for our bodies to absorb it.
You might be asking, “Why charcoal of all things?”. It was not just picked out randomly for companies to make a trend out of it. Charcoal does have legitimate medical applications. In fact, due to its porous nature, it is really good at attracting and trapping toxins from our body. This absorbent property makes it an excellent overdose preventative.
Its porous and absorbent properties do make it look legit when it comes to removing toxins but does it translate well when applied to dental care and hygiene?
Pro: Teeth Whitening
Due to it being porous, activated charcoal is very effective in removing surface stains. Surface stains or extrinsic stains are stains that are found on the enamel layer of the teeth. These stains are usually caused by drinks with saturated dark colors. So if your diet consists of lots of coffee and wine, activated charcoal is a good alternative in removing those stains.
Pro: Treats Bad Breath
Since activated charcoal attracts and traps toxins, it can also help reduce or completely eliminate bad breath. Its absorbent property makes it really good at removing bacteria from our mouth which causes halitosis.
Woman covering her mouth, by Penn Dental Family Practice
The same property which makes activated charcoal good at removing stains also makes it abrasive to the teeth. Overexposure or aggressive usage can wear out the teeth’s enamel which, ironically, can lead to your teeth looking yellow. Be gentle when using activated charcoal and do not overdo it.
Yellow teeth by Ask The Dentist
Con: Unknown Long Term Effects
Since it is practically a new trend, there are currently no official studies of the long term effects of using activated charcoal. We are just going by what the videos are showing and what other people’s experiences are with it. It is still recommended to consult your dentist and use it at your own risk.