Activated charcoal serves many purposes. Most commonly, it is used in the emergency services field as an agent to absorb toxins in the bloodstream, such as to prevent the negative impacts of an overdose. It has also made its way into beauty products, where it is thought to absorb toxins from the skin. Most recently, though, activated charcoal has found a presence in the oral health industry as toothpaste, where it claims to quickly and effectively clean and whiten teeth.
Still though, dentists are urging buyers to proceed with caution, as there is relatively little known about potential side effects because of how new the product is in the field of dentistry.
Dr. Rashmi Bhatnagar of BellaVista Dental Care says there is some research to indicate activated charcoal may be doing more harm than good for your teeth.
“The American Dental Association points out that activated charcoal may be too abrasive, and will wear away enamel, and once you lose enamel, it’s gone for good,” she says. “If you ever find that you have raw or bleeding gums from using this product, you should stop using and potentially consult with your dentist. The thought behind activated charcoal is that it will soak up stains on your teeth, but there is still a lot of research to be done.”
RASHMI BHATNAGAR, DMD, MPH, FAGD.
Bhatnagar says research shows that if using activated charcoal as a toothpaste, it should not be used for extended periods of time, even if you do not feel any pain or negative side effects from it. The suggested usage is no more than once every other week. Because activated charcoal has only recently hit the market, it is important to continuously monitor how the mouth looks and feels, paying attention to any warning signs that damage may be occurring to the teeth and mouth as a whole.