If you’re a fan of natural products, you’ve surely at some point come across a teeth whitening recipe that might seem quite repulsing at first. Yes, I’m talking about brushing teeth with the pitch-black paste that is nothing else but the activated charcoal. First of all, let’s define what activated charcoal really is (no, it’s not the stuff you use in a barbecue!). The “regular” charcoal is simply a result of heating wood, coal regularly found in mines, and other substances in the absence of oxygen. On the other hand, activated charcoal is made by adding oxygen to the regular charcoal, which increases its porosity. This increases its ability to trap toxins and chemicals in the body, which is why it’s widely used for treating many medical conditions, such as poisoning or overdose. The unwanted substances bind to the charcoal which is how it helps the body to get rid of drugs and toxins.
Black is the new white
According to YouTube, Pinterest, and many other internet sites, activated charcoal is not only great for your health, but it also provides you with the perfect smile. When activated, charcoal’s absorptive properties are improved, so when you apply it to your teeth, it tends to “suck in” the plaque, the food substances and other surface stains caused by coffee, tea, or red wine. Basically, its surface which has millions of tiny pores attracts impurities around itself like some kind of magnet and holds them in. That way, it leaves the area around it pure.
“Like any abrasive, we’re worried about the effects on the gums and enamel on the teeth.” -
Dr. Mark Wolff, DDS, Professor and Chair of the Department of Cariology and Comprehensive Care at the New York University College of Dentistry.
Even though charcoal is perfectly safe to ingest, its abrasive properties may cause the damage of the teeth enamel if you scrub it hard against them. Dr. Susan Maples, dentist and author of “Blabber Mouth!: 77 Secrets Only Your Mouth Can Tell You to Live a Healthier, Happier, Sexier Life,”, expressed her concern regarding this new trend. She emphasizes that teeth are the only part of the ectoderm that does not replenish or heal itself. Everything above being said, in order to avoid any problem, consult with your dentist before opting for this approach.
Other than teeth whitening, activated charcoal is used in reducing intestinal gas, for internal cleansing, weight loss and lowering high cholesterol levels. Its popularity began to rise in the 1900’s when the World Health Organization recognized it and acknowledged it as the essential medicine for treating poisoning and overdose. However, it does not absorb toxins, so in case of alcohol poisoning, it won’t do much. It’s also not useful in cases of poisoning from cyanide, lithium, petroleum, strong acids and bases, and other corrosive poisons. Anyhow, in case of poisoning, don’t guess what’s the best thing to do, get to an emergency room!