Everyone wants that perfect white smile. Whether through braces or whitening, people are always looking for the best ways to improve their teeth. Nowadays, many turn to home remedies instead of expensive dental visits. Activated charcoal is now the popular method for at home whitening. The results show an improvement in the whiteness of your teeth, but is this black paste safe?
What is activated charcoal?
Known for its signature pure black color, it is technically activated carbon. This porous substance absorbs everything in its path, from poison to plaque. Historically, activated charcoal was used to filter water and “pump” stomachs in the emergency room. It is now available commercially in most drug stores in the form of powder, paste, or pills. Side effects include upset stomach after ingesting.
Why do people use it to clean their teeth, how does it work?
Activated charcoal is effective at absorbing. When applied to the teeth, it absorbs plaque and bacteria on the surface of the tooth. The unwanted stains bind to the black paste and are spit out.
So, what’s the issue?
The issue with this process is the abrasiveness of the activated charcoal. Abrasiveness of dental products are rated with an RDA score (Relative Dentin Abrasivity). As outlined by the FDA, a score of 200 or below denotes that the product is ok for use. Reaching the upper limits of 200 can denote a possibly harmful product. Activated charcoal scores typically fall in the range of 70 to 90, but it can go much higher depending on brand. Be sure to check before using. Due to its power of absorption, sometimes when people brush their teeth with it, they end up scrubbing away enamel with it. Sometimes brushing with charcoal can degrade tooth enamel, which leaves teeth more sensitive.
When used gently and in moderation, activated charcoal is not dangerous for your teeth. Dentists seem to caution against it, but if you really want to try it check the RDA score of the product and be sure to brush gently, you might even consider applying it with a finger instead of toothbrush. The ADA has not given the seal of approval yet on activated charcoal for teeth whitening, because this is a relatively new trend with little data to support its effects.
Brands and options
If you decide to try this trend, there are two options on the market. Either toothpaste or powder forms of activated charcoal are available and range from $5 to $30 depending on brand and amount.