Is Charcoal Good For Oral Health? - Smile Dental Center

Activated charcoal has taken the beauty world by storm. This ingredient is now present in many facial cleansers, scrubs, masks and more recently, toothpaste.

While activated charcoal has supposed whitening properties and may seem like a gentler alternative to other chemical-based whitening solutions, it can be abrasive. Before trying activated charcoal toothpaste, here’s what you should know.

What Is Activated Charcoal?

Activated charcoal is a powder-like substance made from oxidized wood, coconut shells and other organic compounds. Unlike the charcoal used for grilling, activated charcoal covers a larger surface area, provides absorption and can be blended with other substances.

This latter property has made it very popular in the beauty and wellness industry. For facial scrubs and masks, activated charcoal is advertised as a “detoxifier”.

For toothpaste and other dental products, activated charcoal is supposedly able to better remove bacteria and food particles than toothpaste alone. These factors temporarily make teeth appear whiter, as charcoal can briefly reduce the presence of surface stains.

Yet, activated charcoal’s benefits are purely superficial. No studies have shown it can penetrate below the surface layer of enamel. It’s results are also temporary and have potential to make staining worse with time, due to charcoal’s abrasive nature.

Benefits of Activated Charcoal

If you’re considering activated charcoal for teeth whitening, only do so in moderation along with healthy, effective dental habits like brushing twice and flossing at least once per day.

Through this approach, activated charcoal toothpaste can:

  • Lessen the presence of surface stains
  • Help manage bad breath, due to its absorbent properties
  • Help reduce rough areas on teeth, as it provides a light degree of polishing
  • Be cheaper than other over-the-counter teeth whitening solutions

Cons of Activated Charcoal

With activated charcoal, you can have too much of a good thing – especially when its benefits have not been significantly studied. Based on a 2019 study published in the British Dental Journal, activated charcoal does not fight tooth decay and regular use can interfere with existing dental work, like fillings.

Regular or long-term use of activated charcoal toothpaste also has a few major downsides you should consider:

  • The particles have potential to get caught in your gums, causing irritation.
  • Using an activated charcoal toothpaste every day over a long period of time can wear down your tooth enamel due to its abrasive properties.
  • As the toothpaste wears down the enamel, potential for damage emerges, including a more stained appearance and cavities.
  • The abrasiveness of charcoal has potential to make your teeth more sensitive.
  • Typically, brands using activated charcoal don’t add fluoride to their toothpastes, which further increases potential for tooth decay.
  • Activated charcoal may help remove particles, but it doesn’t detoxify the teeth or gums. It may help control plaque, but any “toxins” present likely won’t be affected.
  • Due to the larger particles used, charcoal may accumulate in between teeth, especially if you have multiple dental restorations, creating the appearance of dark lines in your mouth.

More so than activated charcoal, scheduling regular dental exams and tooth cleanings helps preserve your teeth. If you’re interested in teeth whitening, the professionals at Smile Dental Center can evaluate you for treatment or offer guidance with appropriate over-the-counter whitening products.
To learn more about lessening progressive tooth staining, contact our Shelton office today.