Activated charcoal is one of the latest health trends, the supposedly cleansing product can be found in everything from facemasks to burger buns. But a group of British dentists is urging consumers not to use toothpaste with charcoal saying it can speed up tooth decay.
Charcoal toothpaste's claim they can help whiten teeth, reduce infection and even improve your breath better than conventional toothpaste. A paper in the British Dental Journal says the claims these products are better than other modern toothpaste are not backed up by any scientific proof.
Charcoal may cause long-term damage
The paper even says the products may be actually detrimental to our teeth. They suggest that activated charcoal may be too abrasive for our teeth and could wear away the protective layer of enamel. Because of its dark color, the dentists are worried people are scrubbing their teeth extra hard to get rid of the black look and in doing so are damaging both teeth and gums.
The authors of the paper say there is an increase in patients asking about the benefits of the products and so the group was motivated to write the article to determine a consolidated position.
“The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the current knowledge and understanding of charcoal toothpaste and powders, including consideration of the strength of the evidence to support claims made by the manufacturers of these products,” the paper states.
US dentists share concerns
The UK based group suggest that common ingredients in regular toothpaste such as fluoride, are often taken out of charcoal toothpaste, as the charcoal can absorb them. Removing the fluoride makes your teeth susceptible to long term deterioration.
Finally, the group of dentists is concerned that long term use of the charcoal products may result in small parts of the charcoal being stuck in fillings and veneers which over time could erode or degrade these products.
Dentists in the US are also worried about the rise in charcoal products. A 2017 review in the Journal of the American Dental Association similarly stated there was “insufficient clinical and laboratory data to substantiate the safety and efficacy claims of charcoal and charcoal-based” toothpaste.
So what is it good for?
While using charcoal to clean your teeth seems like it might be a bad idea. Activated charcoal shouldn't be dismissed entirely. The product which is made by heating carbon-rich materials, such as wood, peat, coconut shells, or sawdust, to very high temperatures has been used for centuries as a medicine and cleaning product.
Historically it has been recorded being used to assist with stomach problems. In modern medicine, a very fine form of activated charcoal is used to minimize the damage caused when people swallow drugs or poisons. The charcoal helps to stop the substance to reach the bloodstream through the gut.
Like all health trends, it's important to do some research before you embrace something into your daily routine.