Can activated carbon really be used in oral care?

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Charcoal is black carbon, which is most commonly the char or ash formed when burning wood, bone, or other organic matter such as coconut shells or peat. Charcoal becomes “activated” when it’s exposed to high temperatures and gases that expand its surface area, causing tiny ridges to form on its surface. These tiny edges give the charcoal a large surface area, which can be great for binding to toxins inside the body. That toxin binding property is why charcoal is being thrown into everything from drinks to pills to be marketed as a “detoxifier” by the wellness community (even though… it isn't really.)yongruida activated carbon

This idea of detoxification is one of the reasons charcoal has recently been added (back) to toothpaste. The concept was that if charcoal can bind to and remove toxins in the intestine, maybe it could bind to and remove stains or dirt on teeth to help “whiten” them. (spoiler: it hasn’t been shown to)

The second reason for using charcoal in paste to “whiten,” like most blogger trends, was popularized by the ancient Romans (which is kind of shocking because black products can easily stain a white toga.) The Romans preferred more abrasive toothpastes than their contemporaries in China back in the day, and so mixed abrasive charcoal with bark, crushed bones, and oyster shells to try and “rub away” stains aggressively (think sandpaper). Sounds delightful.

As a reminder, modern dental toothpaste is meant to work with your bristles as a team to gently clean the surfaces of your teeth and the space between your teeth and gums, in addition to strengthening your teeth with ingredients like fluoride. Abrasiveness is now considered a negative characteristic when it comes to toothpaste, which is probably why toothpastes don’t have oyster shells in them anymore — but they thought they knew what was up in the olden days.

Charcoal gradually fell out of ancient beauty guru bathroom cabinets after 1000 A.D., as people started using less aggressive (but still pretty harsh) dental cleaning material like snail shells and herbs. It was another 800 years until it re-entered mainstream sink streams in the 19th century as ingredients for early toothpastes, which were still an alternative to tooth powders — a precursor to thick pastes — that were the more popular hygiene product at the time. Now, in the 21st century, it seems charcoal is once again taking over the world. Just this time with a bunch of beauty bloggers and speculative news articles, and in more products than just toothpaste. Charcoal bristles and flosses are readily available to be double-tapped and put in your mouth.granular activated carbon suppliers

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