Is It Safe To Use Charcoal Toothpaste?
Activated charcoal is now a key ingredient in most commercially-available toothpaste and beauty products like make-up and face wash. In addition, charcoal is considered a natural teeth whitener. However, is this really the truth, or is it just a myth that could adversely affect your health? The American Dental Association and the Columbia MD dentist Dr. Ray Becker give some insights regarding charcoal toothpaste.
Charcoal is a porous form of carbon obtained by burning wood and other organic materials. Activated charcoal results when charcoal is burned at extremely high temperatures, making it sticky. Activated charcoal consists of a fine black powder commonly obtained from bone char, coal, sawdust, peat, and other sources. The substance is then heated to reduce its surface area and activate it.
The sticky activated charcoal is often used in medicine to remove toxins from the stomach. For many years, activated charcoal has served as a remedy for poisons. If someone ingests poison, activated charcoal can be used to trap the toxins and prevent the body from absorbing them. Activated charcoal was once hailed as the universal antidote. It serves as a natural agent for reducing cholesterol, preventing gas, and nullifying hangovers. But is activated charcoal effective in drawing toxins from other parts of the body?
Using Charcoal in Tooth Paste
In teeth whitening, a common claim is that activated charcoal absorbs plaque from the teeth, effectively cleaning stains from wine, coffee, and other drinks. However, no proven scientific study backs this claim. The therapeutic claims that surround activated charcoal toothpaste might not be true.
According to the American Dental Association, there is no evidence that charcoal toothpaste is safe or even effective. There is minimal clinical and laboratory data to support the use of activated charcoal in toothpaste. Continued use of activated charcoal could eventually ruin your teeth and gums.
Activated charcoal has abrasive properties, meaning that it can erode the enamel (the outer layer of the tooth). When people use tooth whitening products, they target the enamel. Using charcoal toothpaste could end up removing more than stains from the enamel. In addition, using activated charcoal continually might lead to exposure to the more sensitive layer of the tooth known as dentin. Dentin is usually yellow in colour.
Your teeth are more prone to staining when the enamel is thinner. Therefore, it’s advisable to avoid using abrasive products like charcoal to clean your teeth. You are better off sticking to modern toothpaste and toothbrushes since these are gently formulated and suitable for cleaning the surface of your teeth. The American Dental Association recommends that you only use toothpaste with an RDA (Relative Dentin Abrasivity) of 250 or less.
Is Activated Charcoal Safe for Your Teeth?
Activated charcoal is not bad for your teeth if you disregard its abrasive nature. However, brushing with activated charcoal isn’t likely to yield any benefits to your teeth in the long term. Despite the claims that activated charcoal whitens teeth, the substance doesn’t remain on the surface of the teeth long enough to produce a significant whitening effect.
According to a 2019 review in the British Dental Journal, charcoal provides minimal protection against tooth decay. There is limited scientific evidence to support other health claims of activated charcoal. Using powdered charcoal in toothpaste could actually make things worse. If people with dental fillings use activated charcoal too often, it might get into the fillings and become difficult to remove. If charcoal particles get trapped in the gums, they could lead to gum irritation.
If you choose to use charcoal toothpaste, you should err on the side of caution. You should also ensure that you brush very gently to avoid wearing down the enamel. Unlike modern toothpaste, charcoal-infused toothpaste doesn’t contain fluoride, even though dentists strongly recommend fluoride to prevent tooth decay. Even if you can use activated charcoal as a supplement to your fluoride toothpaste, it should never serve as a replacement for fluoride toothpaste. Regular toothpaste gives you the fluoride you require to fight tooth decay.
A Difference Between Stain Removal and Teeth Whitening
There is a difference between teeth whitening and removing surface stains. The leading causes of surface stains, also known as extrinsic stains, include tobacco, red wine, coffee, and other dark-coloured foods and drinks. These stains rest on the enamel layer and are easy to remove using surface whitening treatments or toothpaste. However, darker intrinsic stains start from within the tooth and are often caused by weak enamel, trauma, fluoride overuse, and certain medications.
No matter how much you try to whiten the surface of your teeth, you won’t get the desired results if you don’t address the underlying intrinsic stains. A significant teeth whitening can only be achieved by using a whitening treatment that penetrates beneath the teeth’ surface. Charcoal toothpaste is only effective in removing surface stain but not teeth whitening. Therefore, brushing with charcoal toothpaste will never yield equal results to an in-office whitening treatment.
Detoxifying the Mouth
Another common claim is that charcoal toothpaste detoxifies the mouth. It’s true that activated charcoal can remove plaque and food particles that cause bad breath. However, the effect of charcoal toothpaste isn’t any better than that of regular toothpaste. In addition, toxins do not hang out in your mouth since the teeth and gum don’t detoxify the body like your liver or kidneys. Therefore, there isn’t any point in using activated charcoal to detoxify the mouth.
Teeth Whitening Alternatives
If you still seek to incorporate activated charcoal into your dental routine, you can try several DIY alternatives. You can whiten your teeth and freshen your breath by mixing a small amount of baking soda with water. In addition, using diluted hydrogen peroxide can help whiten your teeth over time. Before you order charcoal toothpaste, you might want to try these alternatives first.
The Bottom Line
You can use activated charcoal toothpaste as a supplement to your regular toothpaste but not as a substitute. You shouldn’t have high expectations of charcoal toothpaste to cure your dental issues, especially if you don’t practice good oral hygiene. Are you interested in achieving a brighter smile? We invite you to contact A Plus Institute. Learn about different teeth whitening options.