Activated charcoal is a popular topic these days and many companies are coming out with their own version of charcoal toothpaste. The all-natural whitening claims made for these kinds of toothpaste almost seem too good to be true. Toothpaste that naturally attracts bad bacteria, biofilm, AND whitens? Sign me up! But before you grab a tube make sure you understand the pros and cons of this new trend.

What is Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal is similar to, but NOT the same as charcoal used for barbeques. It is made up of carbon-rich materials (wood, peat, coconut shells, etc.) that are heated to very high temperatures. This causes the charcoal to become extremely porous and allows toxins to bind to the pores in the charcoal. This makes the fine, black powder a wonderful tool for many medical uses.

What Does Activated Charcoal Do To My Teeth?
Activated charcoal has been proven to remove some extrinsic stains, such as coffee tea or other visible surface stains. The pores in the charcoal attract toxins and can remove harmful bacteria that cause decay.

Is It Safe?
While the FDA has approved the use of activated charcoal for many medicinal uses, it has NOT concluded research on oral health benefits. In a 2017 study conducted by the Journal of the American Dental Association, the findings were inconclusive on the effectiveness and safety of activated charcoal for teeth whitening or oral health. Although it has been proven to remove surface stains on teeth, the abrasive nature of charcoal is a concern for patients looking for long term whitening benefits. The activated charcoal removes the surface stains by wearing away at the tooth enamel. Eventually, the enamel will wear away completely, exposing the dentin layer of the tooth. This is problematic for patients looking for whitening benefits because the dentin layer is yellow, not white. This damage is irreversible and can also cause tooth sensitivity.

Bottom Line?
Will activated charcoal whiten your teeth? Yes, but it comes at the cost of your tooth enamel. If you’re looking for whitening options that are safe for your tooth enamel, talk to the staff at Nadim Jubran Dentistry and we can customize in-office or at home treatments for you based on your needs.