You may have recently heared about using activated charcoal for various health and beauty practices. Be aware that it's not all it's cracked up to be, and may actually cause damage in some situations.
What is Activated Charcoal? Activated charcoal has become popular because of it's structure. It is a substance that is very porous, able to absorb other substances. It is commonly used in emergencies to bind to various poisons so they cannot be absorbed into the body. In the past couple of years, it has become popular due to its toxin-absorbing properties, and has been added to all kinds of new products like face masks, cleaning products, and tooth whitening products.
Why is it used in oral health?
When added to toothpaste or used on teeth, many claim it whitens teeth. The idea is that because activated charcoal is a porous substance, it will attract the particles of food, plaque and microscopic pieces floating around staining teeth. Though this could be the case, there are no long-term studies on the effects of using activated charcoal over time.
Should I try it? In fact, many dentists believe that using activated charcoal may actually have a negative effect on the health of your teeth. Activated charcoal is an abrasive substance, meaning it grinds against surfaces. When abrasive substances are used on teeth, they wear down the enamel of the tooth. The enamel is the hard outer layer of the tooth and responsible for making your teeth bright, strong, white, and protected.
When the enamel is worn down, the under-layer of dentin starts to show through or worse, is exposed. Dentin is yellow in colour naturally, so makes your teeth appear more yellow when it is exposed.
Be especially careful if you have sensitive teeth!
Exposed dentin also causes pain and sensitivity. Remember that your enamel doesn't grow back and can't be replaced, so it's important to keep it strong and healthy. If you already have sensitive teeth, stay away from abrasive substances!
Activated charcoal products should be used with caution if you are on medication. It does not differentiate between good and bad when it binds, so could bind to your medication. If activated charcoal is swallowed when used for oral hygiene, it could affect your health!