Is Activated Charcoal All That?

email_4c5fb5a8237a4a168cb745ea92a70be9The latest beauty trend to take the Internet by storm is (drumroll please) … activated charcoal, the substance used in emergency rooms to treat accidental overdoses and poisonings.

Because of its ability to absorb toxins and pollutants, activated charcoal is now being added to everything from soaps and facial masks to juices and even toothpaste. During late summer, a famous YouTuber, Mama Natural, went viral using activated charcoal to clean and whiten her teeth. She claimed that the product she purchased in a health food store in capsule form was highly absorbent and would absorb the bacteria, toxins and staining on our teeth, thus making them whiter.

The truth? Activated charcoal does have natural adhesive properties that can bind with surface stains such as wine and take them off your teeth. But if your teeth are naturally yellow, you need a bleaching agent to whiten them.

The danger? It is not known whether using a charcoal supplement in this manner could be harmful for your teeth. The abrasiveness of the supplement has not been tested and could leave the tooth enamel susceptible to deterioration and erosion. If you really want to try it, don’t brush with it — just make the paste out of the charcoal and dab it on, wait three minutes and rinse.

The products? There are many activated charcoal toothpastes and powders on the market. But please note:

  • The American Dental Association has not given the ADA Seal of Acceptance to any charcoal teeth whitening products.
  • The Food and Drug Administration has approved charcoal as a drug only for limited use as an over-the-counter poison treatment.
  • Medical professionals warn against taking charcoal regularly. The concern is that if the product can take toxins out of the body, it can also take out nutrients.

Safer alternatives? If you are looking to whiten your teeth during the holidays, try an ADA-approved over-the-counter product or tray-based home bleaching system or have your teeth whitened in the dentist’s office.

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