While activated charcoal is thought to whiten teeth and before and after pictures on social media would seem to confirm this, the process simply masks the problem. It does not reach down into the tooth to break up and remove the stains. Instead, it whitens but does not remove the offending component. Activated charcoal binds to the toxins; it does not eliminate them.
What is activated charcoal?
Activated charcoal is charcoal, the stuff from your fire pit, that has been reheated and oxidized. This process removes any substances that may be harmful to people.
Positively charged molecules are attracted and absorbed by activated charcoal due to its negative electrical charge. It traps free radicals and loose particles and cannot be absorbed by the human body. People are using this product in tablet form to brush and whiten their teeth. Does it work?
Cleaning surface-level stains
Activated charcoal has a natural adhesive quality that is able to bind with surface stains. If your teeth are stained from recent consumption of coffee, wine or food, then activated charcoal will grab on to the debris in your mouth before it has time to settle into the enamel and cause further issues.
If you are needing a deeper stain-fighting agent, you will need to look to teeth whitening ingredients like hydrogen peroxide, carbamide peroxide or schedule an in-office teeth whitening appointment.
The gritty nature of activated charcoal scrubs your teeth clean, removing any particles stuck to the surface. There haven’t been enough studies done yet to tell us if it is too harsh on teeth. Here’s the problem: because it is so abrasive, it could potentially damage and scratch enamel, opening up places for food particles to adhere and leave deeper stains. Damaged enamel also leads to more sensitive teeth.
Frequent use could wear down the enamel. If you use tablets or activated charcoal toothpaste, do so sparingly and not as an everyday alternative to your regular dental routine.
Why are people loving activated charcoal?
Without studies backing the safety of charcoal for teeth whitening, why are people jumping on board with this trend?
Emergency rooms have been using activated charcoal to treat poisoning and overdoses because it soaks up the offending poison and keeps it from being absorbed by the stomach. It detoxes the body. Because charcoal attracts foreign particles, it is assumed it will do the same in the mouth. However, more testing needs to be done to determine its effectiveness and safety in cleaning the mouth.
Can activated charcoal whiten teeth?
While activated charcoal has been approved by the FDA for various health issues, the American Dental Association has not yet approved it for teeth whitening. There are no formal studies or evidence to indicate that it is an effective whitening product. Before using activated charcoal for teeth whitening, consult a dental professional, as there is a risk for tooth sensitivity.
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