Out of all the millennial food trends, charcoal-flavored everything has got to be the weirdest. Matcha-glazed cronuts? Bring them on. Avocado toast? Eh, not a fan, but fine, let’s give it a try. Sushi burritos? Yeah, I totally get it.
But charcoal-flavored frozen yogurt? Bamboo charcoal hamburger buns? Cold-pressed charcoal juice? Why, oh why???
Look, I get it. Charcoal has a lot of uses. Its toxin-absorbing and odorless properties, for one, make it ideal for deodorizing the fridge. I’ve even heard that ingesting charcoal can counteract certain poisons.
But while activated charcoal is being touted as the next superfood, scientists have yet to find proof that behind any of its medicinal and cosmetic uses. And in some cases, its use or consumption can be downright harmful.
Take charcoal toothpaste, for instance.
Little More Than a Scam?
Charcoal is currently touted as a natural teeth whitener, hence the trend. Manufacturers include activated charcoal powder in their toothpaste formulas. Influential celebrities like Nicole Scherzinger upload the occasional photo of themselves sporting greyish-black foam.
Unfortunately, there’s no substantial evidence behind its purported benefits, specifically its whitening and stain-removing properties. According to a British Dental Journal review, 96% of charcoal toothpastes on the market simply did not contain enough bleaching agents.
The same study also disproved several other claims, including teeth strengthening, antibacterial or antiseptic properties, and detoxification. Furthermore, using charcoal toothpaste can be actively damaging to your teeth.
Firstly, they don’t usually contain fluoride, which is essential for battling tooth decay. But then again, this is a moot point since charcoal tends to deactivate fluoride.
Secondly, charcoal is an extremely abrasive ingredient. It can permanently damage the enamel surface’s outer layer.
“In reality, using a charcoal toothpaste to whiten teeth is counter-intuitive,” Spotlight Whitening’s Dr. Lisa and Dr. Vanessa Creaven concurred. “The more you use a charcoal-like toothpaste… the more roughened the outside surface of the tooth …which means the less likely a tooth is to shine and whiten.”
Okay, so charcoal is out as a natural alternative to commercial whitening toothpaste. Is there another option?
Fortunately, yes. The founder of The Dentist Gallery, Dr. Jerome Sebah, suggests baking soda instead. Apparently, it doesn’t damage your teeth’s outer layer, but breaks down its extrinsic stains all the same.
Intrigued? Check out our recipe for homemade baking soda toothpaste right here.
It’s hard to blame people who fell for the charcoal toothpaste shtick, given the increased consciousness about toxic carcinogens in everyday toiletries. But let’s also be equally wary of all the other proposed alternatives. Just because something is all-natural doesn’t automatically mean it’s actually good for you.