Health and beauty trends surface on the web every day, and it can be difficult to tell which ones are worth your time, or even safe, for that matter. Perhaps one of the biggest dental trends recently on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram has been teeth whitening through brushing with activated charcoal.
Unfortunately, charcoal whitening is not everything the Internet makes it out to be. Activated charcoal is not what you use to grill at the the summer barbecue; it is an oxidized substance made from peat, coal, wood, coconut shell or petroleum heated with a gas. Toxins and surface stains cling to charcoal due to it's adhesive qualities, which is why some people declare that it is perfect for removing discolorations on teeth. Although it may show quick results initially, charcoal is nothing more than a temporary solution!
The abrasive texure of charcoal may actually roughen up the enamel, which will make it easier for future stains to stick to the surface of your teeth. The roughened enamel may show stains shortly after using charcoal on them, and may become even more discolored than before. Remember, damaged or roughened enamel cannot replenish itself, which means that any damage is permament. Patients with receding gums or sensitive teeth especially should steer clear of charcoal because it can make brushing too harsh and worsen your sensitivity.
The American Dental Association does not approve of charcoal as a safe means for whitening teeth. If you choose to use it, charcoal should be used no more than once every other week at the most, even if your teeth feel fine. The only proven ways to whiten teeth safely are with ADA-approved whitening products or in-office bleaching treatments overseen by a dental professional.