Charcoal Teeth Whitening – Why It's A Trend to Avoid

by Dr Anthony Hua

Activated charcoal has been one of the biggest wellness trends in recent times. Even famous celebrities and bloggers have endorsed activated charcoal, telling you how it’s a good natural alternative to teeth bleaching, but does it really work?


What is Activated Charcoal?

This fine-grained black chalky powder is thought to absorb and remove stains caused by foods like red wine, coffee, and tea. This buzz ingredient is typically made from bone char, coconut shells, olive pits, and petroleum coke.

It has long been used for medical purposes because of its toxin-binding properties. Activated charcoal has been used as far back as ancient times to treat all sorts of ailments from tetanus, typhoid, cholera, dysphoria, hepatitis, conjunctivitis, diabetic ulcers, candida, dysentery, gangrene and more.

These days it is more commonly used in emergency rooms at hospitals to treat alcohol poisoning and drug overdoses. It works by attaching to toxins in the stomach and absorbing the toxins before the bloodstream can.

Does it Work on Teeth?

Understandably, people assume that because of charcoals’ toxin absorbing properties that it would do the same on teeth, but little scientific evidence has been demonstrated to support this theory. A study from the British Dental Journal found that charcoal provides little protection against tooth decay and no evidence that it helps remove stains other than temporarily. It simply won’t do much for your smile in the long-term.

The Negative Effects

While many dentists agree that activated charcoal can have many health benefits due to its ability to remove harmful toxins from the body, this does not extend to people’s teeth. Most believe that several factors should be considered before people try using activated charcoal to whiten their teeth.

Some things to consider are:

Charcoal is abrasive – Brushing with charcoal-infused paste can be very abrasive for enamel on the teeth and can cause wearing down of this tooth surface leading to further discolouration and staining.

Charcoal stuck in fillings – When people use charcoal too often, the fine powder can get caught in between or under fillings and become difficult to get out. Charcoal particles can also get caught under the gums and irritate them.

Does not prevent tooth decay – Toothpastes that contain charcoal often do not have fluoride, so they will not strengthen your teeth and help prevent decay. Therefore, they cannot be used as a replacement for your usual fluoride toothpaste.

May cause sensitivity – The potentially harmful effects of activated charcoal don’t stop at the enamel being damaged. When too much enamel is eroded, it can lead to increased sensitivity and increased susceptibility to large amounts of dental decay if your enamel becomes compromised.

How to Whiten Teeth Effectively

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) has not approved any activated charcoal toothpastes, and according to published findings, there is insufficient data behind their claimed safety and efficacy. The best recommendation is to talk to your dentist about safe and effective teeth whitening options.

While supermarket strips and whitening kits can have some effect, the best way to remove a large amount of discolouration and stains on the teeth is with professional teeth whitening by your dentist.

At Burleigh Dental Studio, patients can customise their experience with two types of bleaching procedures.  Both methods are effective, low-sensitivity and safe.  One option is the Pola Office+ professional in-chair whitening procedure. This option can typically whiten teeth up to eight shades in less than one hour. It has been proven to be both safe and effective, and the hydrogen peroxide will not harm your teeth or gums.

The other option is the PolaDay or PolaNight take-home customised tray whitening kit. This at-home teeth whitening kit will give you up to eight shades whiter teeth in just 10-14 days in the convenience and comfort of your own home.

For more information on teeth whitening solutions, contact our friendly team to make an appointment to discuss your concerns and treatment goals in further detail.

dr anthony huaArticle by Dr Anthony Hua – Principal Dentist

Dr Anthony Hua is the Founder & Principal Dentist at Burleigh Dental Studio. His passion, expertise and dedication to the field of dentistry have been recognised by his achievement of Fellowship status with the Australian Society of Implant Dentistry (ASID) and the International Congress of Oral Implantologists (ICOI).

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