Maybe you’ve seen the news. Activated charcoal is making a splash in beauty care, touting skin clearing wonders to digestive benefits. The ingredient is so popular that it’s moved from simple skin care routines to culinary menus—charcoal lemonades, cocktails, even ice cream cones grace the menus of hip bars and restaurants hoping to appeal to customers who love a good health trend. It was only a matter of time before activated charcoal made its leap to oral hygiene, and can now be found in toothpaste, mouthwashes, and supplements. It’s seen a new boost with the recent celebrity endorsement by rapper Drake. In a recent Instagram post, Drake claimed to use activated charcoal toothpaste, revealing the secret to his stain-free smile.
Benefits of Activated Charcoal
The move toward natural, organic, even alternative beauty and oral hygiene care has given activated charcoal a leg up. The purported benefits can include teeth whitening, preventing bad breath and cavities, and balancing pH levels in the mouth. Activated charcoal works by binding to toxins and unwanted chemicals in the body, so it seems reasonable to believe that the ingredient could work to help remove stains caused by coffee or wine.
Should You Make the Switch?
Sure, Drake has the support of Teen Vogue and Refinery29, who have both run articles about the artist’s beauty secret, encouraging young and old alike to adopt the trend, but is it the right dental choice for you? Following trends comes with a risk, especially when it comes to something as important as oral hygiene. For one, there is no conclusive evidence that proves activated charcoal whitens or cleans teeth. In fact, long-term use can actually lead to enamel deterioration and tooth decay, says Dr. Gary Glassman, Chief Dental Officer of DentalCorp. Too much of anything is bad for you, right?
Rather than quit traditional toothpaste cold-turkey in the hope of experiencing a cosmetic oral revelation, try incorporating the ingredient slowly and in small amounts. The best advice is to use it sparingly. Activated charcoal shouldn’t replace proven teeth whitening and oral hygiene practices like toothpaste with flouride, the only ingredient proven to control bacterial plaque and strengthen healthy white enamel.
There are many options when it comes to teeth whitening, at home, and in-office at your dental care provider, that are just as convenient and possibly more effective than activated charcoal. It’s always a good idea to get the opinion of a dental professional before embarking on a cosmetic journey, and of course, simply keeping your teeth clean is the best method for teeth whitening results.