Charcoal is a unique product that has been taking the dental community by storm. Charcoal can now be found in products like face masks, lotions, cosmetics, soaps, and even toothpaste.
“Activated” charcoal consists of fine particles of coconut shells, peat, sawdust, bone char, olive pits, or petroleum coke. It’s created at very high temperatures which can alter the charcoal’s structure and aims to increase its surface area by making it more porous (allowing the charcoal to function as a magnet to draw out all types of impurities).
Many health benefits are attributed to charcoal. This unique substance back in the 1800s was used as a method of treating drug poisoning, and recently, products with charcoal have been gaining in popularity.
Products with charcoal in them have benefits like promoting healthy kidney function, being used as powerful treatments for acne, and even lowering high levels of cholesterol. Even though activated charcoal is considered safe in the previously mentioned instances, patients should know that the success of these treatments has been known to vary from person to person.
While browsing the internet, you might have found a photo of a model with a very white smile marketing a brand of natural charcoal toothpaste.
Seeing them scrubbing the black substance in their mouth seems counterintuitive, but once the charcoal comes off, the teeth appear whiter than before. So, does this work or is it just an illusion of advertising?
While there are many good uses for activated charcoal, products with charcoal in them have not been concluded as effective or safe in the goal of obtaining a whiter smile at home. It has been shown to inflict more damage on your teeth than other at-home whitening products. Furthermore, it hasn’t received the Seal of Acceptance from the ADA (American Dental Association). The Journal of the ADA says that there is “insufficient clinical and laboratory data to substantiate the safety and efficacy claims of charcoal and charcoal-based dentifrices.”
So, what are the downfalls of using charcoal-based toothpaste? Due to its rough nature, charcoal wears down the tooth enamel and increases tooth sensitivity. Unfortunately, tooth enamel doesn’t grow back once weakened, which demonstrates how protecting the strength of your tooth enamel is extremely important. Charcoal-based toothpaste can also lead to an increased risk of tooth decay.
For patients who are still interested in at-home teeth whitening, various other products are effective. In-office whitening sessions work, as well as certain peroxide-based whitening products such as fluoride toothpaste and Whitestrips.
Want whiter teeth? Schedule an appointment
with Dr. Hill today for an in-office whitening session!