Charcoal Powder — Does It Really Whiten Your Teeth?
Charcoal powder is the latest craze for tooth whitening home remedies. But does it really whiten your teeth? We examined this trend to determine whether or not it does everything that all the hype claims it does. We found out that it is safe, but there are no scientific studies currently to back up the claims on teeth whitening.
What is Charcoal Powder?
Charcoal powder for oral usage is not just ground up charcoal pieces from your BBQ grill. Please don’t use those. Charcoal powder is activated charcoal, classified as medical grade or safe for human consumption. This odorless black powder has no flavor and has been used to treat various ailments throughout history.
Charcoal is treated with oxygen applied at extremely high temperatures to create activated charcoal. The initial processing reduces pore size and increases the surface area, thus changing the internal structure. It is distributed in capsules as a nutritional supplement and added to both food and non-food items such as toothpaste and ice cream.
As a supplement, the activated charcoal is not absorbed by your digestive system. The porous structure acts to attract gases and toxins in your stomach, allowing your body to expel them naturally.
Activated charcoal is currently used in medical settings as an anti-poison remedy or to treat drug overdoses. There are claims that it lowers cholesterol, improves kidney function, and assists your body in producing less flatulence. It has also been helpful for water purifying filtration.
Theoretically, for tooth whitening, activated charcoal toothpaste acts as a binder. It binds to stains, bacteria, viruses, and tartar. The binding action is thought to remove the things that cause dental decay.
Is It Safe to Use for Teeth Whitening?
Charcoal powder is considered safe for use in its activated form. Charcoal is frequently used in cases of poisoning. It may sometimes induce vomiting. There is also a risk in powder form that it may be aspirated into the lungs. Activated charcoal should only be administered to treat poisoning within a medical setting.
For tooth whitening, is it best to use activated charcoal that has already been suspended within a toothpaste. If you use it in powdered form, dampen your brush, then dip the brush into the powder. This reduces the risk of inhaling the dry powder.
Charcoal-based toothpaste claims to have a whitening effect on teeth. It is slightly abrasive and might remove surface staining somewhat. There is no supporting evidence that charcoal toothpaste will impact deeper staining. It does not penetrate deep enough to work well on stains below the enamel.
There are some fundamental concerns about the continuous use of charcoal toothpaste because of its abrasive properties. It is also not recommended if you have composite resin fillings, crowns, or veneers because it can scratch the surface. The scratches will allow staining to occur that may not be reversible.
When exploring the efficacy of charcoal-based mouthwashes, no scientific studies back up the claims. Supposedly, these mouthwashes will prevent halitosis (bad breath), whiten teeth, prevent periodontal disease, reduce the potential for cavities, and help restore teeth on a mineral level.
With no scientific evidence to support these claims, it might be better to stick to regular fluoride mouthwashes.
Can Charcoal Powder Be Used Forever?
No. If you choose to use charcoal powder, it should only be used short-term. It would be best if you also continued brushing with your regular toothpaste. When brushing with charcoal powder or charcoal-infused toothpaste, you should use a gentle stroke with a soft-bristled brush.
Using a medium or stiff brush and brushing aggressively can exacerbate the powder’s abrasive action, causing more damage to your teeth. We examined the pros and cons of charcoal-based tooth products
- May remove some surface staining on teeth.
- It might improve bad breath.
- It might help prevent some staining with occasional use.
- The abrasiveness may remove tooth enamel, causing yellowing.
- It only removes surface stains.
- Daily use can cause teeth to become sensitive.
- It can cause staining on crowns, veneers, composite fillings, and older teeth.
- Most brands do not contain fluoride.
The long-term effects of charcoal-based oral care products are not known.
The Downside of Using Activated Charcoal
If you consider using charcoal powder or other charcoal-based oral care products, please discuss this with your dentist or orthodontist. It is recommended that caution be taken when using any of these products because their long-term safety has not been studied adequately.
We know that charcoal toothpaste is abrasive and should not be used daily. This can cause staining rather than reducing it or whitening teeth. It is not safe to use with dental work such as fillings, crowns, and veneers. The charcoal powder can also drift below your gum line, causing irritation and possible inflammation of the gum tissue.
The most significant downside of charcoal-based toothpaste is the lack of fluoride. We know that fluoride can be instrumental in preventing tooth decay and cavities. The advantages of using fluoride-based products are well-known and proven by years of science.
Preventing Tooth Stains
The best advice for maintaining a bright, white smile is actively preventing tooth staining. There are several things that you can do daily to keep your smile bright without resorting to every fad that pops across social media:
- Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice daily.
- Floss your teeth daily.
- Cut down on foods and drinks that stain, such as coffee, red wine, and blueberry pie.
- Use a straw with stain-causing beverages.
- Rinse your mouth with water after eating or drinking items that cause staining.
- Don’t smoke, as this can cause discoloration of your teeth, bad breath, and more.
- Chew sugar-free gum after consuming acidic foods to reduce the impact of acids on your teeth.
There are many tooth whitening products out there. If you are interested in a brighter smile, please discuss it with Dr. Leslie Pitner before trying new products, gimmicks, or do-it-yourself remedies.