If you're like me, you're wondering why putting charcoal in any close proximity to your mouth would be a good idea. Charcoal toothpaste might seem like an unfounded fad at first, but it turns out that charcoal has been used for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years in medicine because of its adsorption and decolorizing properties.
Can a toothpaste containing charcoal whiten teeth? As counterintuitive as it may sound, it can!
If you browse Instagram, you'll find pictures of foods that seem impossibly black: black ice cream, black coffee, black breads, and even black juices. These foods have been dyed with activated charcoal.
To clarify, activated charcoal—the ingredient most commonly found in oral care products containing charcoal—is not the same sort of charcoal you burn on your grill for portobello steaks. However, it's made from the same organic materials, namely wood, coconut shells, olive pits, coal, sawdust, and peat.
Activated charcoal is finely ground into a powder and then processed with very high heat, changing its internal structure. This makes it more porous and gives it a higher surface area than cooking charcoal. These unique properties have made charcoal useful for a variety of purposes throughout history, with oral care emerging as one of the latest applications.
Activated charcoal has been used to combat poisons for nearly two hundred years. In the 1700s, scientists knew that activated charcoal had superior adsorption properties, but didn't know how to apply that knowledge. In the 1800s, cases emerged where doctors saved patients' lives by administering charcoal to adsorb poisonous substances they'd ingested, according to a report in The Western Journal of Medicine.
Now, you can find activated charcoal at the pharmacy in case of accidental poisoning, reports the Mayo Clinic. It's used in emergency rooms to treat drug overdoses because it binds to the poisonous substances in the stomach and carries them safely through the digestive system.
The food industry uses activated charcoal to decolor (or whiten) products, including sugar, explains a study in the International Journal of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Additionally, the study notes that activated charcoal is used extensively in industrial air filters, as well as in drinking water treatment.
The unique chemical structure of activated charcoal gives it powerful adsorption, bleaching, and purification abilities. It has proven to be effective in processes throughout history, and incorporating a safe product containing charcoal in your oral care routine could encourage you to experience charcoal toothpaste for yourself.
How Does Activated Charcoal Toothpaste Whiten Teeth?
Some people are concerned about charcoal's potential abrasive effects on enamel. The American Dental Association rates the abrasiveness of toothpastes against a standardized scale called relative dental abrasivity (RDA). Toothpastes will an RDA of 250 or less are considered safe and effective.
Don't be afraid of the dark! Tom's of Maine's Peppermint Activated Charcoal Toothpaste's formula is the gentlest charcoal toothpaste among leading natural brands based on RDA testing. It is also safe for enamel and everyday use. Tom's of Maine's natural charcoal toothpaste gently whitens teeth by removing surface stains.
If using products with naturally derived ingredients is something you are trying to do more of, choose a brand you trust to ensure your personal care products are safe for you and your family and give you the results you want.
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Why It's Good
Activated charcoal has been useful throughout the centuries for its incredible adsorption and purification properties.