Activated Charcoal Toothpaste - SH*T OR HIT?!
Good lord this stuff was everywhere last year. Nearly every beauty blogger tried it out, celebs were advertising it, it’s even been in the news. Prior to being a unicorn, I used to work as a dental nurse so I have a lot of knowledge in this area. I am not going to try this product out for you, you’ll understand once you read why.
Does it work?
This is obviously the first question everyone has. It's most commonly advertised as a tooth whitening paste, does it work for whitening… well no. Bare with me now, what your natural tooth colour is depends on what colour your dentin is. That is the layer of your tooth directly underneath your enamel. Your enamel, the top layer of a tooth, is almost colourless, it reflects whatever colour is underneath it. When you get your teeth professionally whitened it is the dentin that they are whitening, the prescription products they use are strong enough to penetrate through your enamel. You will not be able to purchase anything strong enough to get through the enamel without seeing a professional. Remember your enamel is built to protect your teeth, it is incredible strong and hard to penetrate.
What does charcoal do then? I can hear everyone shouting about the videos they have seen of girls brushing their teeth with black goo having great results. It’s not total shit - Charcoal is highly absorbent, it absorbs bacteria and toxins to great effect, including plaque and staining. Yep plaque that gross fuzzy yellow stuff that builds on your teeth around your gums. Plaque can make your teeth appear a lot darker or more yellow than they are combined with staining. Charcoal can remove all that nasty shit from your mouth giving a brighter whiter appearance. Its sticks to the bad stuff, then once you scrub over it with a toothbrush it lifts it all off.
Can't I use it then, it doesn't sound so bad?
There are downsides to everything, unfortunately charcoal as toothpaste has a lot of them. First off, all that bad bacteria its getting rid of, yeah great stuff, but because of its absorbent nature it also gets rid of good bacteria, not so great stuff. I’m not going to dive into why you need good bacteria, I’m not your mother, go look it up yourselves and learn something if you don’t know already.
Another downside, no one is sure yet if it can penetrate the enamel or not over a long period of use, but if it can it would leave teeth with a blotchy or black appearance. The exact opposite of whitening your teeth. The black pigments in charcoal could get stuck behind the enamel and stain the dentin a black colour. Giving your teeth a blackened appearance. Not such a great look.
Charcoal is also abrasive, and your teeth do not replenish – as in they cannot heal themselves or grow back once damaged. Rubbing something abrasive long term over your teeth WILL damage them. There is no question about that. No ifs or buts. It will fuck them up. It will wear down your enamel and can make it weak, causing cavities, erosion, sensitivity etc. It can also hurt the gums. More visits to the dentist = more money spent in the long term fixing all the problems the charcoal has caused.
SHIT OR HIT?!
Do you even need to ask.
You can colour your hair, pierce your skin, fuck with your nails, even shave an eyebrow or two, that stuff all grows back. Your teeth will not. Once you damage your teeth there is no going back. Go see a professional and stop wasting money on fad products. Better yet spend that ten pounds on a good electric toothbrush and it will do the exact same thing. If you staining is more serene go see a hygienist for a good cleaning (you should be seeing one regularly anyways duh).