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Activated Charcoal: Fantastic or Fad?

By Caroline Jacobson on May 2, 2017 in Dental Health


Activate Charcoal: Fantastic or Fad?

The teeth whitening trend has turned black, thanks to activated charcoal. And between brushes and pastes, brands are marketing charcoal as a miracle mouth product.

Let’s take a look at the science behind this supposed “miracle” trend:

What it is

Activated charcoal is different from the kind you throw on the grill. Charcoal becomes “activated” when high temperatures are mixed with gas. This combination causes it to expand and become porous, trapping the impurities around it.

What we know

Manufacturers claim their charcoal-containing toothpaste and toothbrushes can “kill microbes and absorb gasses causing odor." This claim has yet to be tested, as research is still ongoing. In other words, there is no proof this actually works.

We do know that charcoal is abrasive. If it’s too tough on teeth, the product can result in pearly whites looking more yellow than before. Charcoal contains abrasive substances that can wear away enamel and expose dentin—the softer, yellowish layer of a tooth.

Play it safe

Its effectiveness has failed to be proven, and the safety of charcoal whitening products is a big question mark.

Remember: The American Dental Association (ADA) is a leading resource for oral health, and they provide a seal of acceptance for safe, proven dental products they recommend. If whiter teeth is your heart’s desire, it is best to bring it up to your dentist during your next dental check-up. A healthy mouth is top priority, but your dentist can also help recommend safe and proven ways to brighten your smile!