The newest craze to hit social media has been the use of activated charcoal products for overall health, dental care and whitening. Hailed as a natural alternative to other methods, activated charcoal has been adopted by many. However, it’s important to be aware of the irreversible damage your charcoal-containing products may be causing to your teeth.
Activated charcoal is prepared by heating carbon-rich materials like coal, coconut shells or wood at high temperatures, creates micro-pores which increases its surface area. This makes charcoal a highly absorbent material which can bind onto toxins within the body and on surface stains when applied to teeth. While these may be positive attributes, the coarse nature of charcoal may be stripping your teeth of their very outer enamel layer.
The long-term studies on the use of charcoal products on teeth are still limited, with enamel abrasion being a major concern. As each layer of a tooth is scrubbed away, it becomes susceptible to deterioration and decay. This can lead to dentine hypersensitivity and irreversible damage as teeth cannot repair or regenerate what has been removed by the charcoal. In addition, many charcoal-containing products lack fluoride, further reducing the protection afforded to teeth against decay that brushing with a fluoridated toothpaste would otherwise provide.
Given a lack of approval by any certified dental association, dentists are concerned about the lack of moderation around the intensity of charcoal products being sold. If whitening or overall improvement in dental health is what you’re hoping to achieve, speak with your dentist to discuss safer, more suitable options that will work for you.