Activated Charcoal…Is it actually good for your teeth?

The new trend on social media these days that keeps popping up is using a charcoal toothpaste to brighten/whiten up one’s teeth. Bloggers have been going crazy posting videos of themselves using the black toothpaste. Although it looks like the opposite of whitening while used in the video, the claim is that it will improve your smile in little time with little cost.

First, lets talk about the history of charcoal. The Greeks and Romans used it in their homemade toothpastes, as did other cultures that date back to the 19th century. Before this trend started, my knowledge of charcoal use was at hospitals and poison control centers to treat people that have been poisoned. The thinking is that the charcoal when ingested will absorb toxins.

So, the two questions that everyone seems to ask, does it work? What are the risks? At this point in time, there is little to no research/studies on activated charcoal as toothpaste. The one thing we do know is that it is highly abrasive. All toothpastes have an abrasive factor to them, that’s what helps clean the teeth. However, activated charcoal toothpaste is extremely abrasive. The American Dental Association warns of the abrasiveness of charcoal toothpaste. This will cause wear on your enamel and expose the underlying tooth structure of dentin, which is much softer and more yellow in colour than enamel.

There are other ways to whiten your teeth. There are a vast variety of whitening toothpastes out there, a topic on its. At MacNeill & Spinnato Family Dentistry we can professionally make you a custom whitening tray with the use of hydrogen peroxide. Much simpler and cheaper tricks would be to avoid foods that cause staining such as: red wine, coffee and tea. At this point in time with such little research out there on charcoal as a toothpaste, my professional opinion would be to hold off from use due to its abrasiveness.

– Dr. J.P. Spinnato

Resources: The American Dental Association
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