The scientific answer to this question is, we don’t know. There are no studies that prove or disprove the effectiveness or safety of utilizing activated charcoal to whiten your teeth. Pinterest boards and bloggers alike are jumping head first into this trend, but without scientific evidence that it’s actually good for you, should we all be jumping on board?
What is Activated Charcoal?
As described by WebMd, activated charcoal is similar to common charcoal, but is made especially for use as a medicine. Activated charcoal is made by heating common charcoal in the presence of a gas that causes the charcoal to develop lots of internal pores. These pores help the charcoal to trap chemicals and prevent their absorption. This ingredient is also used in some makeup to absorb extra oils in the skin. It has been adapted as a whitening method with the thought that it will absorb stains from the teeth.
What are the main causes of tooth discoloration?
1. Food & Drink – Coffee, Tea, Wine and other foods may cause staining of the teeth
2. Tobacco – Whether you are a smoker or use chewing tobacco, both can cause discoloration
3. Oral Care – poor oral care including inadequate brushing or flossing can cause discoloration
4. Trauma or Disease/Medical Treatments – Trauma to the teeth may cause discoloration as well as treatments for illness such as chemotherapy and radiation.
Is Activated Charcoal a viable tooth whitener?
As we look at this further, we know there is no evidence that suggests activated charcoal can absorb stains from deep within the tooth enamel. So what does it do?
Activated charcoal is an abrasive substance. When mixed with water to brush teeth, you may see that it can remove some tarter buildup which may dull the teeth. But be cautious when using harsh abrasives on your teeth. This simple act may wear away at the enamel causing permanent damage to your teeth and additional yellowing to those pearly whites. Others still, may feel that by brushing with activated charcoal, they can forgo regular brushing and flossing, which can be detrimental to your oral health.
The ADA says, “Using materials that are too abrasive on your teeth can actually make them look more yellow. Enamel is what you’re looking to whiten, but if you’re using a scrub that is too rough, you can actually wear it away. When that happens, the next layer of your tooth can become exposed – a softer, yellow tissue called dentin.”
Knowing this, ask yourself are you willing to take the risk of wearing away your enamel on an unproven whitening method?
At the end of the day, regular and adequate care of your teeth is key to keeping your smile bright. Schedule regular dental visits, brush & floss regularly and consult your dentist for recommendations on a proven whitening program that work for you.
Some at home solutions whitening solutions we carry include: