Charcoal tooth treatments have found plenty of proponents who say that a regular coating of the stuff whitens their teeth and kills off bad breath-causing bacteria.
The reality, as it so often is, may be somewhere in the middle. “I recommend a charcoal toothpaste to remove surface stains but not to whiten teeth,” says cosmetic dentist Gregg Lituchy, adding, “It is difficult to actually whiten a tooth with any toothpaste, but those with charcoal do remove surface stains effectively.”
"It is difficult to actually whiten a tooth with any toothpaste, but those with charcoal do remove stains effectively."
As for those concerned about charcoal absorbing medications, the good news is that charcoal really only performs any significant degree of absorbtion when it comes into prolonged contact with medications in the digestive tract. Provided you’re rinsing out your charcoal tooth treatment rather than swallowing it, there’s very little chance of the activated charcoal on your teeth effecting your prescriptions.
If you’re looking to work charcoal into your whitening and breath-freshening routine, you best bet is to brush with a charcoal-based paste or sub in a toothbrush with charcoal-infused bristles every other day to strip away food and drink stains. Though there has been very little study on the abrasive effects of charcoal on teeth, most activated charcoal toothpastes feature abrasives like baking soda which can wear at teeth; especially those already prone to sensitivity. As a consequence, Lituchy advises erring on the side of caution and brushing the paste on very gently to avoid wearing down the surface enamel, which can make teeth more prone to staining in the long run.
Speaking of enamel, don’t go throwing out your regular toothpaste just yet. “Activated charcoal can be used as a supplement to brushing with regular toothpaste for people who are seeking a whiter smile, but it cannot be used in place of it,” says Lituchy. “Regular toothpaste gives us the fluoride we need to fight dental decay so it’s necessary to keep it as part of a daily regimen.”
How To Whiten Teeth at Home With Activated Charcoal, Learn more Harpersbazaar