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Whitening with Charcoal, 101

No matter what industry you work in, there will be a trend for everything. When it comes to dental hygiene, more and more people have tried a rather unusual form of whitening their teeth: whitening with charcoal. This trend has flooded social media, where you can now see people making tutorials of how to use charcoal for whitening teeth, and even people pushing charcoal products on platforms like Instagram. But does whitening your teeth with charcoal actually work? We have some insight to help you answer that question!

The down low on Activated Charcoal products:

The charcoal that people have been using to whiten their teeth is not the same type of charcoal that is used for things like art projects or on the grill. Activated charcoal simply refers to its carbon properties being “activated” in such a way as to increase the charcoal’s natural absorptive properties. There are also other benefits to activated charcoal, including it being able to absorb toxins and chemicals in your body if it is ingested.

If you’ve ever seen these videos online, you’ll know that brushing your teeth with charcoal is extremely messy, and takes much longer than actual brushing (two minutes for regular toothpaste, and five minutes for brushing with charcoal).

But does it work?

The answer is simple. Brushing your teeth with charcoal over an extended period of time will make your teeth appear whiter than brushing with normal toothpaste. There is no question about that, seeing as the properties of activated charcoal absorb the kinds of things that could be making your teeth appear less white.

So, do you advise brushing with charcoal? NO. While this trend is definitely something to follow, the American Dental Association has not put out any studies on the topic, meaning that no one knows how this will affect long term dental health.

Additionally, no one knows how charcoal will affect your enamel, which is the most important part of the tooth. If you have a weak enamel, you’ll need to replace the entire tooth. Likewise, your teeth do not replenish themselves like your skin, nails, or hair do. Meaning that once you damage them, they won’t grow back, which means the damage caused by charcoal could be irreparable.

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