Health trends often come and go – and it can be tough to understand what trends have actual medical benefits, and which ones should be ignored. In the world of dentistry, one of the newest trends is the use of activated charcoal.
Proponents of activated charcoal claim that it can “detox” your mouth and improve your oral health – and also whiten your smile naturally. But before you go out and start brushing with charcoal powder, there are a few things you should understand about this DIY dental trend.
What Is Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal is a specialized form of charcoal. Usually it’s made from organic materials like peat, coal, wood, or coconut shells, but can also be made with petroleum by-products.
This charcoal is heated along with a gas, which makes the charcoal more porous. This helps enhance charcoal’s natural ability to “trap” harmful chemicals. This is essential for its primary use – for poison treatments. Because it traps poisons before they enter the bloodstream, it’s a very powerful emergency poison treatment method.
Companies have recently begun offering “activated charcoal” toothpaste – claiming that the same method of action that removes harmful poisons can remove toxins from the mouth and gums. They also claim it can even lift stains from your teeth, resulting in a whiter smile.
Is that true? Here’s what you need to know.
Is It Safe To Brush With Activated Charcoal Powder?
The potential risks of brushing with activated charcoal outweigh the benefits – if there are any.
Most people who brush with activated charcoal crush tablets into a powder, and use this to brush their teeth. Some people report surface stains being lifted – but the evidence for this is anecdotal, at best.
In fact, brushing with activated charcoal may actively harm your teeth. Current research indicates that activated charcoal is, in fact, quite abrasive – and by roughening the surface of your teeth, it allows bacteria to grow more effectively. In turn, this increases your risk of tooth decay and periodontal disease.
In addition, activated charcoal does not contain any fluoride, which is essential for maintaining your oral health.
Brushing exclusively with activated charcoal powder is a bad idea – it just isn’t a viable alternative to standard toothpastes, and could even actively harm your oral health.
Forget Charcoal – Traditional Teeth Brushing And Whitening Is Still The Way To Go!
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Toothpaste with fluoride is extremely good at destroying bacteria in your mouth, and strengthening the enamel of your teeth – and traditional teeth whitening products like peroxides have decades of proven efficacy.
It’s tempting to try alternative treatments like charcoal powder to save money, but in the end, it’s best to stick to tried-and-true, medically-proven treatments.