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One never needs to look far for the latest trends in healthcare. There are a variety of products on the market that claim to deliver incredible results. But how can you sift through the mire to find the facts? Currently, activated charcoal is a popular topic. This material is used for a number of purposes and can be applied externally or ingested. Many individuals today are using activated charcoal to whiten their teeth. Our team at LG Dental discusses this trend and offers sound advice concerning the efficacy and safety of charcoal toothpaste.

What is activated charcoal?

When you think of charcoal, you probably think of what you use to fire up the grill at your family barbeques. Although activated charcoal has a similar origin, it is processed differently than its regular counterpart. For example, activated charcoal is a black powder obtained from coconut shells, olive pits, sawdust, coal, or other various materials. This charcoal is then placed over high heat, which changes its structure, making it more porous and removing any additional substances that could be harmful to humans. This process is referred to as “activation”.

The chemistry behind activated charcoal

Harmful toxins and gases have a positive charge, while activated charcoal has a negative charge. Therefore, the charcoal is able to absorb these toxins, including free radicals. In addition, it is not possible for charcoal to be absorbed by the human body. Therefore, it effectively carries these harmful substances out of the body through excretions.

How has activated charcoal been used in the medical industry?

While activated charcoal may sound like a trendy new idea, it has actually been used in the medical field for quite some time. In 1834, a physician in the United States administered activated charcoal to save the life of an individual who had mistakenly consumed mercury chloride.[1] Since that time, it has been used to prevent overdoses from prescription and over-the-counter drugs. In fact, it is a common emergency room poison treatment. Some studies have concluded that activated charcoal can reduce drug absorption by up to 74 percent.

What are the assumed benefits of charcoal toothpaste?

Because activated charcoal is porous, many believe that it can absorb the surface stains found on the teeth. However, much of this is anecdotal, without much scientific evidence.

Is charcoal toothpaste safe?

While activated charcoal has been approved for numerous uses by several worldwide health organizations, it has not yet been widely accepted as a teeth whitening agent or oral health product. One of the most concerning aspects of activated charcoal is its abrasiveness. Using a product that is too coarse or abrasive can actually cause enamel erosion. Because enamel does not regenerate, charcoal toothpaste could be detrimental to the health of your teeth.

While charcoal toothpaste is not approved for use currently, there may be more advancements in the future that make it a safe and viable option. Furthermore, there could be more research studies that support its efficacy for dental use.

If you are interested in trying charcoal toothpaste, we highly recommend discussing it with your dentist first. He or she may approve of moderate use, depending on your unique situation.

Contact us to learn more

To find out how you can keep your smile looking bright and healthy, schedule a consultation at our Toronto, ON dental clinic. Contact us online anytime or call us at 416-224-8300.