What Is Activated Charcoal— And Should You Put It In Your Mouth?

A recent (and growing) trend is the use of activated charcoal in health products— everything from shampoo to cleansers, even toothpaste! In today’s post you’ll learn more about activated charcoal, what it is, how it’s used, and whether it should be part of your dental health regimen.

First thing’s first. Activated charcoal is nothing like the charcoal you’d use in your barbecue grill. In scientific terms it’s the same: both are forms of carbon, but their properties are very different. Remember a diamond is also a form of carbon, too. But you’d never confuse a diamond with a charcoal briquette would you?

Activated charcoal is processed at extremely high temperatures. This process produces charcoal that is very porous and has a very large surface area. This added surface area creates particles with a microscopic electrical charge that attracts other particles. It’s a bit like static electricity. When you rub a balloon on your head, the charge “pulls” your hair towards the balloon.

Image result for charcoal toothpaste

Should you use an activated charcoal toothpaste?

Activated charcoal can help you whiten your teeth and maintain the whiteness of professional cosmetic whitening treatments. You can buy activated charcoal at a health food store, often in tablet form. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the charcoal into a paste with a bit of water. Use your finger and gently rub the paste on your teeth. Then rinse your mouth and swish water around in it before spitting out the charcoal paste. About once a week is all it takes!

DO NOT:

  • Use a brush or rub too hard
  • Rub the charcoal on your gum

Charcoal is abrasive and a little bit goes a long way!

While occasional teeth whitening with activated charcoal is fine, it’s not ideal for everyday use. You can take over-the-counter charcoal supplements to help eliminate toxins from the body. However, most people will see the greatest improvement in their dental health from use of a fluoride toothpaste. I know fluoride isn’t perfect but it does reduce cavities. Overall the benefits of fluoride generally outweigh the drawbacks.