Use of charcoal as a teeth-cleaning agent is an ancient practice. You might have also heard your elders at home tell you how they would rub powdered charcoal on their teeth to whiten them.
With the advent of advanced and more effective dentifrices the use of charcoal had become somewhat obsolete. However, in recent times we have witnessed a dramatic resurgence of the practice; and now charcoal is not only being used in toothpastes to whiten teeth, but also as an ingredient in beauty products like face masks, and edibles like burger buns and ice-creams!
As far as charcoal’s use for oral hygiene is concerned, modern dentists have shown reservations. In a recent study, a group of British dentists have advised against using charcoal toothpastes.
The dentists studied over 50 samples of charcoal toothpaste only to conclude that these products offer limited to no dental protection against caries; the fluoride content of the majority of these toothpastes is well below the recommended range. All charcoal-containing toothpastes also claim to have teeth-whitening benefits, which could not be held true after the research: these products do not contain enough free radical bleaching agents.
Moreover, charcoal particles are abrasive and can cause irreversible damage to the enamel.
”Charcoal particles can also get caught up in the gums and irritate them,” informed the research’s co-author, Dr Joseph Greenwall-Cohen, from the University of Manchester Dental School.
Charcoal toothpastes do not offer real, long-term benefits and instead can prove to be a threat to one’s oral well-being. Anyone that is worried about staining or discoloration of teeth can benefit from alteration in diet and an improved oral care regime containing fluoridated products. In case of more pressing concerns, one should visit a doctor instead of jumping on the bandwagon of ‘hyped trends’.