Activated charcoal has been on the news a lot in recent years, it has become a popular cosmetic and health ingredient and it is being used for several purposes including facial cleansing, as an additive for your hair, and even for oral hygiene as people sometimes brush their teeth with activated charcoal.
Although its uses are rather new in this field, activated charcoal has been around for quite some time and it’s been used for other purposes before.
However, today what we really want to know is if it really helps yellowing teeth become whiter.
What is activated charcoal?
Activated charcoal is a substance that has been around for many, many years. In the last decade of the XX century, it began to gain popularity in household cosmetics and health products.
Back in 1834, an American doctor used activated charcoal to treat a patient that had ingested mercury chloride by accident and saved his life. Ever since many uses for it have been discovered, that is both safe and effective, and this also includes brushing your teeth.
It’s important to point out that we’re not talking about charcoal that you would use to make a barbecue, however, they both come from the same place.
Activated charcoal is a black powder, a fine black powder that comes from grinding coconut shells, bone char, coal, olive pits, sawdust, or other materials.
This charcoal is activated by processing it with high heat. This process changes the internal structure resulting in a more porous substance than regular charcoal.
The other reason it goes through this high heat treatment is to make sure that any additional substance that might be harmful to humans is eliminated. The entire chemical composition of activated charcoal has turned out to be very useful.
The way activated charcoal works is by attracting positively charged molecules with its negatively charged molecules. Toxins and gases all have a positive charge, so they become absorbed by the charcoal that has a negative charge.
One very cool advantage of this material is that it cannot be absorbed by the body, so it carries the toxins out through excretions.
Medical uses of activated charcoal
- One of the most common uses for activated charcoal in medicine is to prevent overdoses, by drugs or other toxic substances. It is often used as an emergency poison treatment.
- It can bind to a large number of over the counter, prescription, and recreational drugs, reducing the body’s absorption by up to 74% in adults.
- Some physicians claim that it also improves kidney function, thanks to its toxin binding properties that reduce the number of waste products that would have to go through the kidneys to be filtered.
- It has also been shown to lower cholesterol, since it binds to the cholesterol acids in the gut, so the body absorbs less.
- It is also said that when applied to the face, it purifies the pores and helps to treat acne.
Activated charcoal for teeth whitening
Recent observations have suggested that using activated charcoal for whitening teeth does seem to have a positive effect. The reasoning behind it is that the charcoal absorbs plaque and other compounds that can stain teeth, therefore, teeth should become whiter. It doesn’t neutralize the toxins, but rather binds to them.
However, there is no formal evidence that it really is effective, and the American Dental Association hasn’t approved activated charcoal products for dentistry yet.
If you are going to use activated charcoal to brush your teeth, it’s important to be careful because it can be very abrasive. Always check that the charcoal abrasiveness level is lower than 200.