You’ve probably seen this new dental trend on your social media feeds: beauty influencers sporting pitch black smiles and swearing the result is cleaner, whiter teeth. The product? Activated charcoal powders, applied and brushed onto teeth in lieu of toothpaste. No one can deny its popularity, but is this craze hot, or hazardous?
Activated charcoal has long been used medicinally thanks to its absorbency. In fact, hospitals usually have the black stuff on hand to soak up poisonous substances a patient may have accidentally ingested. The idea behind using charcoal in your mouth is similar; if it can absorb poison, surely it can absorb stains and bacteria from teeth, right? Not necessarily. The mixture is so gritty, it can actually erode enamel, leading to a greater risk of tooth decay and cavities.
In addition to being uncomfortable and hazardous, the erosion of enamel can have another side effect: darker colored teeth! Your enamel is the part of the tooth that’s actually white, so the more you wear it away, the dingier your teeth will be.