By Ana Snyder, M.S., Exercise Physiology; CPT, FNS
Health trends come and go so quickly, it’s hard to know which are good and which are bad. Activated charcoal is one of those trends—and it’s even in toothpaste! The black powder is supposed to be a good natural alternative to peroxide for brightening your pearly whites, but is it safe? It’s strong enough to absorb stains caused by red wine, coffee, and tea, so is it also strong enough to harm your enamel?
The answer is yes! Activated charcoal is very abrasive on its own, roughening your teeth and stripping your enamel. As your enamel starts to strip, you will make your teeth more sensitive and expose your dentin, making them actually look yellower long-term. If you must use it, stick to charcoal toothpastes that use an extra fine powder so it will be less harsh. No matter what, you shouldn’t use charcoal more than once a month.
Interestingly enough, charcoal doesn’t even whiten your teeth, technically. It just takes away surface stains. It’s actually far better to use non-whitening toothpaste and peroxide strips. Yes, peroxide can also be hard on your teeth. Bleaching your teeth dehydrates them, which can use sensitivity, but studies show that it is safe as long as you aren’t bleaching them every day. All whitening products should be used sparingly! Here’s the best home kit for whitening your teeth: Crest whitening strips.
Side note, charcoal also can permanently stain your tongue black. So if it gives you yellow teeth and stains your tongue, are there really any upsides?