Is Activated Charcoal Safe for Teeth?

A myriad of activated charcoal products nowadays claim to be the all-purpose toothpaste that whitens the teeth, strengthens the enamel, and detoxifies the mouth.

Unfortunately, this claim is met with varied results. A review of more than 100 articles shows that toothpaste incorporated with activated charcoal did not substantially do better than your standard toothpaste when it comes to oral hygiene [R].

There is, however, a variation noted depending on the quality and type of charcoal product used.

A study looked into a popular toothbrush in Southeast Asia that has bristles made from a blend of charcoal and nylon. These bristles were more effective in inhibiting bacterial growth than common bristles, which verifies the claims of charcoal’s antimicrobial properties [R].

Replication of these results would show a charcoal-bristled toothbrush’s value in gingivitis prevention.

Additionally, a new study compared the teeth whitening properties of activated charcoal, home-made whitening treatments, and a tested whitening toothpaste. Results noted that teeth significantly whitened after activated charcoal use, but they failed to look into the abrasiveness of home remedies or how long-lasting the whitening effects were [R].

While the results of recent studies are reassuring, there is still lacking evidence to confirm activated charcoal’s effects on teeth whitening or oral health improvement.

The American Dental Association warns that the roughness of activated charcoal might erode the enamel instead of whitening the teeth [R].

Use only products that don’t erode the enamel to protect the teeth. Use activated charcoal products with caution since teeth erosion can result from overuse.

A toothpaste with a dentin abrasiveness level of less than 250 is recommended by the American Dental Association, so make sure the activated charcoal toothpaste you use meets that requirement [R].

If you can’t find a product that meets this requirement, at least try lessening your use of the product or alternating with regular toothpaste. Skip a toothbrush and use your fingers when applying the product on your teeth to reduce its abrasiveness.

The US FDA or Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved activated charcoal-containing products for teeth whitening. Additionally, children and pregnant or lactating women are not recommended to use these products.

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