From YouTubers to bloggers, the Internet is full of rave reviews for activated charcoal by people touting it as an all-natural and bleach-free way to whiten your teeth. Here’s the 411 on the trend.
What is it?
Activated charcoal is different from the kind that fills naughty children’s stockings or the stuff 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. Activated charcoal is non-toxic. In fact, it is used by hospitals to treat poisoning, drug overdose and stomach problems, as the porous substance soaks up toxins to keep them from being absorbed by the body.
What’s the Oral Health Claim?
The claim is that when activated charcoal is applied to the teeth, it whitens them by binding with rough materials on top, such as stains and plaque. When given enough time to stick to the teeth, the charcoal takes plaque, food particles and stains with it when removed.
Is it Safe?
While activated charcoal is not harmful and has proven medicinal benefits, it has yet to be tested by the dental industry. Therefore, most dentists advise to approach this teeth-whitening method with caution. If used too often, its abrasive texture can damage tooth enamel; therefore, people with recession of gum tissue or other tooth sensitivity issues should refrain from using this method. You should also consult your dentist before trying it if you have fillings, crowns or bridges to make sure they will not be affected by the charcoal and make sure to check that it won’t interact with any medicines you may be taking.
Does it Work?
There are many who claim to have had success removing surface stains from the teeth using activated charcoal. If it does yield results, however, they are typically minimal and you shouldn’t expect to see a dramatic change overnight. Most DIY whitening methods take at least a few days and you likely won’t see a drastic difference like you would with commercial whitening products.
While everyone wants a bright white smile, the important thing is to make sure that smile is healthy. So make sure to brush, floss, eat a healthy diet and see your dentist regularly.