Author: Katie MacMillan
Activated charcoal has been popping up on social media, particularly for its infusion with toothpaste! But what is it exactly? How does it work? More importantly, is it actually safe for your teeth?
While regular charcoal is commonly created through the burning of wood and other materials, activated charcoal is made through heating charcoal with gas, transforming it into a porous material thought to trap toxins (Colgate, n.d.).
Popular for whitening teeth, activated charcoal in toothpaste may work through gentle abrasion to remove and absorb stains on teeth, resulting in a brighter appearance (Santos-Longhurst, 2019). However, further research is needed to investigate if this substance actually penetrates below the enamel to whiten teeth effectively (Santos-Longhurst, 2019). In fact, activated charcoal may even create staining on your teeth if small bits of charcoal get stuck in the crevices of teeth, or you use it often enough that the enamel on your teeth wears down and exposes dentin, a yellow substance (Santos-Longhurst, 2019).
In terms of safety, it is important to use charcoal toothpaste wisely as there can be detrimental oral health effects. For example, the abrasive nature of the substance can wear down your enamel, causing your teeth to become more sensitive (Santos-Longhurst, 2019). Additionally, fluoride is commonly added to regular toothpaste to help prevent tooth decay, but toothpaste with activated charcoal often does not contain it, leaving your pearly whites vulnerable (Colgate, n.d.). Finally, there is not enough research on the effect of activated charcoal on dental restorations such as veneers and crowns, so it is currently unknown if it could potentially cause issues in the long term (Santos-Longhurst, 2019).
In conclusion, limited evidence on the benefits of activated charcoal shows that it cannot be considered a suitable option for teeth whitening just yet. It is best to speak to your dentist about healthcare-approved methods instead!
 Colgate. (n.d.). Charcoal toothpaste: What is it? Charcoal Toothpaste: What Is It? Retrieved October 30, 2021, from https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/selecting-dental-products/charcoal-toothpaste-what-is-it.
 Santos-Longhurst, A. (2019, June 18). Charcoal toothpaste for teeth whitening: Does it work and is it safe? Healthline. Retrieved October 30, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health/charcoal-toothpaste#_noHeaderPrefixedContent.