Activated charcoal has been touted as a teeth whitening solution by toothpaste companies for years. But does it really offer lasting results or are the benefits it offers only myths? In order to understand that, we need to deep dive into this ‘miraculous’ solution.

What Is Activated Charcoal?

Activated charcoal is a fine powder or mixture comprise of peat, coal, sawdust, coconut shells or olive pits. It’s called ‘activated’ because it is treated to high temperatures, which alter its internal structure. The process significantly reduces its pores, which results in a larger surface area.

This charcoal is NOT to be confused with the charcoal used in traditional outdoor barbecues. Those are briquettes, the only difference being they are not activated at high temperatures and contain substances, which can be toxic if ingested.

What does Activated Charcoal do for Teeth?

Activated charcoal is super absorbent and it can allegedly detox your mouth. When applied, it sticks to tartar, leftover food, bacteria and stains and takes them with it when it is removed. The result should be a cleaner mouth and whiter teeth, right?

However, there is no scientific evidence proving what those toothpaste commercials promote. There is no proof, for instance, that activated charcoal effects stains below the enamel or can naturally whiten teeth.

Here are some facts about this charcoal:

  • It is too abrasive for everyday use and can wear down enamel with time. This can expose the dentin, which can make your teeth more sensitive and look yellow in appearance.
  • Many charcoal toothpastes do not contain fluoride, a substance that is essential when it comes to strengthening tooth enamel. Weak enamel can invite cavities and decay and if you use abrasive activated charcoal toothpaste, you will make the damage worse.
  • It can stain teeth as particles accumulate in crevices and cracks, thus defeating its alleged purpose.

Since there is no scientific data suggesting activated charcoal is beneficial for teeth whitening, no product that contains it has the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance. However, despite this, consumers still fall victim to advertising and use these products to their detriment.

If you must use it, use your fingers rather than your toothbrush to apply it to your teeth in order to reduce damage and don’t swallow it, otherwise it can result in an upset stomach. Additionally, activated charcoal products are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration and are considered unsafe for pregnant/breastfeeding women and children.

Book an Appointment with Us Today!

Whether you use charcoal-based dental products or something else, you should get your teeth checked regularly to keep them strong and healthy. That is the best way to prevent cavities and infections, which may worsen if you have an underlying condition. Smile League Dental takes walk-in appointments as well so we can provide care to the most vulnerable patients when needed. The longer you delay, the worse your teeth will get. Get in touch with us for an appointment today.