If you’re an avid social media user, you’ll have seen the pop up of activated charcoal as a means to whitening your teeth on Facebook, Pinterest, and Youtube. It seems like every blogger and vlogger is trying out this pitch-black paste. So, what is the truth about Activated Charcoal? Activated charcoal is a natural way to remove stains caused by pigment-rich food and drink like coffee, wine, and berries. To prove its effectiveness, demonstrators are sporting soot-covered teeth, looking like they stepped out of a horror flick. This look is tolerated because of the supposed result: glaringly white teeth with only one use.
Activated Charcoal Explained
Activated charcoal can also be referred to as activated carbon and can be found in medicine cabinets in households everywhere. It has a long history of medicinal use and is commonly used to help cure food poisoning, treat intestinal gas, lower cholesterol levels, and treat cholestasis in pregnant women. Activated charcoal is also sometimes used in emergency rooms and hospitals and has found a permanent spot on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines. Jarringly black in color, this nontoxic substance is both odorless and tasteless. Relatively inexpensive, you can purchase activated charcoal online, from health food stores, and pharmacies in tablet forms. Activated charcoal is seeing a lot of interest because it’s a natural option compared to other teeth whitening treatments that seem to make up the market. It doesn’t contain chemicals like fluoride (which helps fight cavities), can be used at home, and is more affordable than common teeth whitening treatments.
How Does Activated Charcoal Work?
Activated charcoal probably has you thinking of what you see in fireplaces or after making smores, but it isn’t the same thing. This charcoal is activated by chemical methods or steam at an extremely high temperature, which removes volatile compounds and separates atoms. Once the atoms are separated, other substances, like food particles, can be pulled into the open space. When used as a teeth whitening treatment, the pores of the substance binds to the rough parts of your teeth, which are usually stains and plaque. Because it binds to these parts, it’s easier to remove the stain-causing particles. To ensure the activated charcoal has been bound properly, it should be left on for three minutes. Upon removal, this mineral takes with it excess food particles, surface stains, and plaque, which is why it has become the newest teeth whitening fad. Since it attaches to the grittiness of teeth, activated charcoal will not change the color of deeply stained teeth or teeth that have yellowed naturally over time. To address those issues, stronger bleaching techniques must be used.
Is Activated Charcoal Safe to Use?
Individuals who want to try out this new trend should tread with caution. If it is used wrong, it can cause scratching, chipping, and enamel damage due to the abrasiveness of the mineral. When brushing with activated charcoal, you need to lightly graze your teeth instead of scrubbing like you would with regular toothpaste. You should also postpone this treatment if you have any abrasions, cuts, or open wounds in or around your mouth. There’s no scientific proof that activated charcoal really works, and there are better, safer tooth whitening options available to consumers. If a product like this one sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you still want to try activated charcoal, you should use it sparingly and discontinue its use if your teeth become sensitive. Dentists are also giving this activated charcoal trend a yellow light. If non-activated charcoal is being passed for the activated kind, it can be dangerous. If this treatment were completely safe and effective, all the big brands would be using it. While consumer reviews do report a slightly whiter smile after use, they also mention gum irritation and increased tooth sensitivity. The safest method to whiten your smile is to use a well-tested product.