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Activated Charcoal – Is It Really Good for Teeth?

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Every now and then, the topic of activated charcoal and its role in teeth whitening resurfaces in the dental conversation circles. We at CDA regularly receive media inquiries on the topic as well as inquiries from dentists about the safety and efficacy of activated charcoal.

I have invited Dr. Aaron Burry, Assistant Director of Professional Affairs here at CDA, to tell us about how CDA considers the issue of activated charcoal and what dentists should know about it. If you listen to the conversation and feel you have additional questions, please feel free to email us. We are always looking forward to receiving your feedback and suggestions.

Until next time!
Chiraz Guessaier, Manager, CDA Oasis

Highlights

  • Charcoal does not have any demonstrated oral health benefits. Using oral care products that contain charcoal, whether short or long-term, is not recommended by the CDA.
  • Activated charcoal is nothing more than a porous form of carbon. It is abrasive and will remove surface stains from teeth thereby allowing the natural colour of the tooth to shine through. Unlike bleaching products that contain strong oxidizers such as peroxide, charcoal cannot change the actual colour of teeth.
  • The abrasiveness of grainy pastes have the potential to harm tooth enamel.
  • Activated charcoal is only safe for teeth if the manufacturer controls the size of particles to limit their abrasiveness potential. The CDA does not control the size of particles to limit their abrasiveness potential. Health Canada is the federal institution that is responsible for ensuring the safety of oral care products sold in Canada.
  • It should be noted that should consumers switch from using toothpastes containing fluoride to a charcoal-containing paste without fluoride, they are increasing their risk of developing tooth decay.
  • Individuals should be aware that the long-term use of abrasive pastes, whitening or bleaching products, may cause tooth sensitivity or tooth abrasion. CDA encourages the public to:
    • make informed decisions about their oral health;
    • consult their dentist for options that are right for their individual needs; and
    • to look for oral health products bearing the CDA Seal.

Oasis Moment (1.25")

Full Conversation (9.21")

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