Is Whitening with Activated Charcoal Safe

At Oakton Family Dentistry, we love to learn about new products and treatment options for our patients. But before we make recommendations to our patients, we love to research the product. One of the latest “All Natural” teeth whitening options is Activated Charcoal. But before you start using Activated Charcoal to whiten your teeth, we want to make sure you know if this is a safe option.

We have had a lot if patients ask about using activated charcoal to whiten their teeth. Here at Oakton Family Dentistry we use evidence based research to make our recommendations, but sadly there is not a lot we know about it.

What is activated charcoal?
Almost any organic material can be used to make charcoal when it is burned, such as dead wood, coconut husks (coir), and peat moss. It can also come from fossil fuels including the most common form, bituminous coal, or subbituminous and anthracite grades of coal. It is considered activated when their internal surface areas are expanded though extremely high heat. Activated charcoal should not be confused with charcoal briquettes that are used to light your barbecue. Charcoal Briquettes have not been activated at high temperatures and can contain additional toxic substances.
How does Activated Charcoal Work?
Activated Charcoal has a toxic binding property and is currently used for a variety of medical conditions. Most know to treat poisoning. The porous texture has a negative electrical charge, which causes it to attract positively charged molecules, such as gases and toxins.
A few possible benefits activated charcoal is that it may promote kidney function, reduce symptoms of Fish Odor Syndrome, and reduce cholesterol. Other possible uses that are not supported by science include gas reduction, water filtration, tooth whitening, hangover prevention and skin treatment.
Is Activated Charcoal Safe?
In most cases, activated charcoal is considered safe, but may cause adverse reactions when ingested.
Because of activated charcoal binding property, ingestion of activated charcoal may cause reduced absorption of certain medications. Individuals taking medications should consult their Primary Care Physician prior to ingesting activated charcoal.
As dental professionals, our main concern about using a new product, such as activated charcoal, is its effect on teeth. First, check the Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA) of the product. A higher RDA may cause more damage to the tooth surface. Oakton Family Dentistry recommends finding a product that is below 100 on the RDA scale.
0-75: low abrasiveness
76-100: medium abrasiveness
101-150 highly abrasive
151-250: harmful
To find out a products RDA level, check the company’s website. If you’re unable to find the information there, call them!
Most Importantly, Does Activated Charcoal Work?
See what our hygienist thought…