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How safe is it to Whiten Your Teeth with Activated Charcoal Toothpaste

A significant proportion of individuals are highly sensitive about the color of their teeth and the market for whitening toothpastes is booming. A relatively new but growing trend on supermarket shelves is activated charcoal toothpaste, which often claims to be the most effective solution for everyday whitening. But does charcoal toothpaste actually whiten your teeth, and more importantly, is it safe for your teeth? There is no direct evidence to suggest that charcoal toothpaste is directly harmful to the teeth, however there are some important factors to consider.

Charcoal toothpaste is not a permanent whitening solution

Activated charcoal is a form of carbon processed to have small, low-volume pores that increase the surface area available for adsorption or chemical reaction. It is this particular property that is claimed to give it its superior tooth cleaning qualities, as it theoretically allows the carbon to chemically bond with the particles causing staining and remove them. There is little evidence, however, to show that this process really does occur with charcoal toothpastes. Regular use of charcoal toothpaste may weaken the teeth enamel exposing the dentin layer which is naturally yellow in color.

Day to day oral hygiene is not prioritized

According to the research, the huge surge in the popularity of charcoal toothpaste appears to arise more from celebrity endorsement than from any substantiated evidence that it delivers real benefits. One of the problems with this is that whilst the marketing focuses on the supposed whitening benefits, it often overlooks other more important features of toothpaste in maintaining good day-to-day oral hygiene.

Low level of fluorides promotes tooth decay

There is no direct evidence to suggest that charcoal toothpaste is directly harmful to the teeth, however there are some important factors to consider. Firstly, it is important to understand the role of fluoride in preventing tooth decay. In order to actively prevent decay, toothpaste needs to contain 1350 to 1,500 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride. Many of the current toothpastes which contain activated charcoal, however, fall well below this level and are putting users at an increased risk of tooth decay.

Abrasive properties break enamel causing sensitivity

A second factor is abrasion, another key concern of the researchers who state that “Some of the products may be over abrasive and if used too often can wear away the enamel on the teeth causing sensitivity.”

Non-activated charcoal particles may cause stomach problem

There are additional concerns about the charcoal tooth whitening method. These concerns include the loss of healthy teeth elements, the removal of good bacteria that help with digestion, and the danger of the non-activated charcoal particles.  Also, taking activated charcoal may cause gastrointestinal side effects like constipation, diarrhea, darkening of the stool or vomiting. Serious complications such as bowel obstruction have been reported. It may also cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. If you do use or intend to use charcoal toothpaste, the advice is to ask your dentist for their advice to ensure that your product does not cause more harm than good.

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