Posted in Prevention

What is activated charcoal?

Is black really the new white?

By Dr Rita Trak

Activated charcoal is a topic I get asked about, not too often but it is something a topic that is gaining interest in Australia. In the last 5 years, google searches on activated charcoal has really taken off so let’s look into this black mystical product and see if it’s something worth adding into our daily routine.

google trends 'activated charcoal' australia.png

The whole idea behind using charcoal to brush your teeth is to ultimately get whiter looking teeth. It’s not marketed to prevent cavities or gum disease so don’t get any ideas in your head that you can replace your toothpaste with charcoal. I am not even going to explore that road because I can tell you right now charcoal is not to replace your toothpaste. I am looking to see if charcoal toothpaste really does what it promises to delivery, which is to whiten teeth.


So let’s answer the question – is black really the new white?



I’ll tell you what. Some of the packaging of these charcoal products looks sexy. It really does make me want try it out. There is no doubt about it, black is sexy. Black toothpaste is like wearing a LBD (little black dress). You definitely feel better wearing a black dress than a white one so there is definitely a sex appeal there from a branding point of view.



If charcoal were to work, it works more so from a physical action – actually scrubbing away the outer layer of your teeth and removing any superficial debris, similar to brushing your teeth with fine sand granules. Its mode of action is an abrasive one, rather than a chemical one. I don’t agree with this because it is harmful to your teeth because you are not only scrubbing away the unwanted dirt from your teeth but you’re also removing the healthy part of your teeth. Once you remove some of the outer layer of your teeth (including the part of the tooth that you want to keep) it’s gone and you can’t ever get it back.


In a nutshell, I wouldn’t turn to charcoal to whiten my safe. Not only it is too abrasive and destructive to teeth, it’s also not an effective or predictable way to whiten your teeth. I would get my teeth professionally cleaned by a dentist to remove all the stains, plaque and calculus and then get whitening trays made to buy a home whitening kits and whiten my teeth at home for 2 weeks. It’s the safest, most proven method, most predictable and most long-lasting way.


So what about the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos that you see on sites promising that blindingly white pursuit of happiness? I simply don’t trust the images and it wouldn’t surprise me if they’ve been photo shopped. At the end of the day, these companies are trying to sell you a product and unfortunately it’s not always in your best interest to buy it.


I know I said the packaging is sexy, but in reality is this sexy to you?






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