It seems like everywhere you look, someone is promoting the benefits of charcoal be it for the skin, the teeth or for detoxifying treatments. Parents are particularly curious about charcoal whitening and whether it is a safer or more effective alternative to whitening using hydrogen peroxide solutions for their own or their children’s teeth. 

What is activated charcoal? 

This isn’t what you use when you barbeque. Coconut shells, bone char, sawdust, coal, olive pits and other materials make up the finely milled powder we know as activated charcoal. 

What activates it? It’s processed in high heat. This purifies it from harmful substances and changes its structure into powder. 

Activated charcoal has a negative electric charge. This attracts and binds positive-charged molecules, like certain toxins in the gut or in the mouth. 

The history of beneficial charcoal use 

Activated charcoal is an effective trap for poisonous substances. Doctors have used it to treat accidental overdoses and poisonings. When ingested, activated charcoal absorbs toxins and prevents them from going into the bloodstream. It does have many FDA approved used.

We can’t absorb activated charcoal. Along with the toxins it absorbed, it passes safely and harmlessly through the digestive system. 

Recently, activated charcoal has been added to detox treatments purported to absorb free radicals in the body, topical creams for clearing the pores, and in toothpaste for teeth whitening. 

Is it safe for kids? 

The truth is, we probably do not know yet above the safety or efficacy of activated charcoal for tooth whitening.  While it might be safe, it might not be very effective. The American Dental Association hasn’t approved any charcoal products for dentistry. 

Charcoal is effective at absorbing, binding to, and therefore removing plaque and other stains.  However, it’s quite abrasive, and can lead to damage to enamel if used long term. For kids and teens, this can lead to toothaches and tooth decay and eventually yellower teeth as the irreplaceable white enamel layer thins and exposes more of the yellower dentin underneath.  Honestly, the same can be said for whitening toothpastes as they contain many abrasive silica particles as well.

Keep up good dental hygiene for whiter teeth

If your kids are conscious about the color of their teeth and are considering whitening, talk to your pediatric dentist or orthodontist for options. Regular brushing goes a long way in keeping teeth looking great, and regular visits to the dentist for cleaning can amaze you with the difference it makes for brighter smiles! 

Our orthodontists can offer safe and effective at home, custom tooth whitening treatments based on what scientific evidence shows to be optimal timing and application technique.  When in doubt, ask your health professional and we can guide you on the best options to keep your smile vibrant and healthy in appearance.

About Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan, the offices of Drs. Plunkett, Ralstrom, Makowski, Thanasas, Ker, and Associates

Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan have specialized in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics since 1968. Our family-friendly and newly renovated office gives patients and families a more comfortable and consistent experience with dentistry from the very beginning. Our pediatric dentists treat children from newborn to 18 years of age while our orthodontists provide care for both children and adults and are proud to be Premier Providers of Invisalign and Invisalign Teen services. The ability to treat all patients with compassion and individuality, including those that may have special needs reaches beyond our facility, which has treatment rooms available for children who require additional privacy and customized care options.  We pioneered valued hospital affiliations to allow dental services to be performed at DMC Children’s Hospital and St. John Macomb Hospital, when appropriate or necessary, and our specialists are also proud to be on staff at Henry Ford and Beaumont hospitals.

39400 Garfield Rd., Suite 200
Clinton Township, MI
Phone: 586-286-0700
Fax: 586-286-5932