Charcoal Whitening: Does it work and is it safe?

You see it everywhere now – advertised on Facebook and Instagram, in the beauty aisle at Target and Walgreens. Activated charcoal can be found in pill form, facemasks, you name it. There are even charcoal teeth whitening products on the market. Reviews on social media urge consumers to join the trend. But does charcoal actually whiten teeth, and is it even safe?

First off, you may be asking, “What is charcoal exactly?” It has often been used for poison control and to prevent overdoses, due to its toxin-binding properties. Though commonly seen in the health and beauty world today, activated charcoal is a little different than the charcoal or coal from your outside grill. Activated charcoal is finely ground bits of coconut shells, coal, peat, bone char, even sawdust, and more. Then, it is heated, thus making it more porous.

Charcoal teeth whitening instructions

  1. Open an activated charcoal capsule, and empty contents into a small bowl.
  2. Take a wet toothbrush, and dip it into the activated charcoal powder.
  3. Brush your teeth gently for 2 to 5 minutes.

Also, there are actual toothpastes with activated charcoal as an ingredient. If you decide to brush with those, follow the package directions or simply brush as you would with any other toothpaste. Make sure not to use activated charcoal toothpaste as a replacement for your regular toothpaste. It should just be a very occasional supplement if used at all.

Does charcoal teeth whitening work?

Activated charcoal, when brushed on your teeth, attracts dirt and tartar like a magnet. Then, when you rinse your mouth, your teeth look whiter because some of the stains have been removed. Does that mean your teeth made whiter? Not necessarily. This is because the charcoal is simply showing how white your teeth are without stains. It isn’t progressively whitening your teeth like at-home teeth trays or in office whitening treatments. If anything, it’s simply just cleaning the teeth.

Is activated charcoal teeth whitening safe?

There doesn’t seem to be enough studies and proven evidence to definitively state whether or not charcoal teeth whitening is safe. While the FDA has approved many activated charcoal products, the ADA has yet to give their seal of approval.

If taking the leap and trying charcoal teeth whitening, please be cautious. That being said, there are many professional teeth whitening services to choose, which are actually proven to be safe. Talk to your dentist about your options today!

Charcoal teeth whitening dangers

Though not stamped unsafe or safe, there are still potential dangers. If you are only using charcoal toothpaste when brushing your teeth, then you may have issues with the levels of fluoride for your teeth. Most regular toothpastes have enough fluoride in them to protect teeth from decay. Charcoal toothpastes do not.

Some dentists worry about charcoal affecting the enamel and leading to tooth erosion. The abrasiveness of activated charcoal powder is still unknown. Further, teeth cannot heal themselves. Once erosion occurs, there is no turning back. And though there haven’t been studies to prove charcoal harms your teeth, the issue is that there has yet to be any formal testing to prove it won’t hurt your teeth.

Additionally, as previously mentioned, activated charcoal is like a magnet. So if it is ingested, it could also absorb the effectiveness of medication you may have taken. Be careful if deciding to orally use charcoal for any reason.

What’s the verdict on charcoal teeth whitening?

At the end of the day, charcoal whitening is not really whitening your teeth. It does seem to do a decent job at removing tougher stains from coffee, dark soda, and wine consumption.

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