Charcoal Teeth Whitening: What Is It? Does Charcoal Really Whiten Teeth?

When you hear people talk about activated charcoal for teeth whitening, they’re not just picking up the remains of burnt wood and rubbing them on their teeth.

Although activated charcoal has some of the same properties as barbeque charcoal, they are not the same thing.

We added a few charts with some interesting data about charcoal teeth whitening through this article. This information comes from our internal study. To learn more about our study and how we gathered our responses, please scrolll down to the bottom of the page.

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Activated Charcoal: What Is It?

Activated charcoal is a black powder that’s actually made from many different things, like coconut shells, olive pits, coal, and several other materials. And then it’s reheated and oxidized, and therefore activating it.

activated charcoal for teeth whitening

This means that it becomes more porous, allowing it to trap substances you don’t want on your teeth. Plus, it has a natural adhesive ingredient that make it bind to the things that stain your teeth, like plaque.

It first gained popularity in the 20th century, although it was first used medically in 1834. An American doctor used activated charcoal to counteract the effects of ingesting mercury chloride. The doctor actually saved the life of a patient by making them consume some charcoal.

And people came to discover that one of the other uses of activated charcoal was brushing your teeth.

Activated charcoal is made of crushed materials, like coconut shells, olive pits, and coal, and then reheated (which oxidizes it).

Activated Charcoal For Teeth Whitening

The idea of activated charcoal for teeth whitening sounds promising and backed by science, but does it actually work? Or is it only good in theory?

Does Charcoal Whiten Teeth?

Ever since humans discovered that charcoal could whiten teeth, a whole industry has formed around it. Today, lots of people use activated charcoal to brighten up their smile.

One thing to note: no scientific evidence exists that activated charcoal will actually whiten your teeth. And while FDA has approved it for many health-related issues, the American Dental Association has not approved any sort of products that include activated charcoal.

On the other hand, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that it works. People who brush their teeth with activated charcoal notice a difference before and after (and have pictures to prove it). And it makes sense — the chemical properties of this charcoal have a whitening effect and it does pull plaque from your teeth. Less plaque means less stains which means whiter teeth.

Is Charcoal Teeth Whitening Safe?

Some people suggest that activated charcoal is dangerous because it’s too abrasive for use on your teeth. This is a legitimate concern as tooth enamel does not regrow or heal itself, so using a substance that could rub off enamel is worrisome.

The first thing you should do is speak with your dentist. Ask them what their professional opinion is on using charcoal and if they think it could hard your teeth. We found that only 19% of people had a dental consultation before using a charcoal whitening product, and that’s not safe to do.

Then when you go to choose the right charcoal powder or charcoal toothpaste, make sure you check its level of abrasiveness. You can even show your dentist the charcoal you want to get and see what they think.

Of the people who had a dental consultation before using charcoal, most of them (78.1%) checked the abrasiveness of the charcoal toothpaste before using it.

Most of the people who didn’t get a consultation did not check the abrasiveness of the charcoal toothpaste before use (69.7%).

One way to cut down on the roughness of the paste of powder you’re using is to smear it on your teeth rather than brushing it on. This will decrease the risk of the substance damaging your enamel while still whitening your teeth.

Some of the risks and side effects of charcoal teeth whitening can include black stools, black tongue, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation. However, 72.5% of the people we surveyed experienced no side effects.

How To Whiten Teeth With Charcoal

So if you want to give it a try, how should you use it for teeth whitening? It’s actually pretty simple.

  1. Get a clean toothbrush (traditional or charcoal) and wet it with water.
  2. Dip the brush into the activated charcoal powder or dump the capsule of charcoal on the brush.
  3. Quickly place the brush into your mouth and begin brushing.
  4. Brush in small circles for two minutes using light pressure.
  5. Spit and rinse thoroughly.

An alternative to this method is to mix some charcoal powder with water and use that concoction to rinse. There are even easier solutions, such as charcoal toothpaste.

Simply use the paste as you would your regular one, except be more gentle. Another thing worth noting is that with normal toothpaste you can brush two or even three times a day with no side effects. The charcoal type should be used more sparingly so as to avoid excessive scraping.

Your best bet is to alternate between the charcoal and your regular paste. Doing this can remove stains and discoloration, rather than actually change the color of the dentition, much like with the powder.

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The Final Word

After speaking with your dentist on the specifics of charcoal teeth whitening, it’s definitely worth trying out. Especially if you’re concerned about the chemicals inside the more common teeth whitening options, like whitening strips and paint.

Survey data

We ran an internal survey on our website, in July 2018. We gathered a total number of 821 responses. Please email [email protected] to receive a raw responses in CSV format.