Dental Tips

Activated Charcoal for Teeth Whitening

May 20 • 2 minute read

If activated charcoal is not on your radar yet, read on and discover why this relatively newcomer to the health and wellness scene is so popular right now.

The truth is activated charcoal has been around for centuries. Its’ use dates as far back as 1550 BC when it was used for medicinal purposes as a remedy for drug overdoses, snake venoms, bacteria, viruses, and poisonings by stopping the toxins from spreading in the body.

What is Activated Charcoal?

It’s not the charcoal you use to barbeque, though it is similar! The base material is the same.

Activated charcoal is a fine-grained black powder made from natural substances like coconut shells, olive pits, bone char, slowly burned wood and peat. The powder is activated and oxidizes when high heat is applied. Activated charcoal is odourless, tasteless, very porous and highly absorbent. Its absorbent nature allows it to bind to toxins and odours, rather than soaking them up.

Where Can You Find it?

Many dental products on pharmacy shelves already contain activated charcoal. These products claim to remove coffee stains, wine stains, and plaque. Activated charcoal in tablet, powder or capsule form can be found at your local health food store or pharmacy.

You can also find activated charcoal in many beauty products such as skin masks and acne treatments. Since it can also help control body odour, it can also be found in deodorants.

How Does it Work?

The activated charcoal tablets need to be ground down into dust. Add just enough water to mix into a paste. Apply to your teeth by dabbing the paste on, rather than rubbing or brushing it on, to avoid damaging your teeth.

Once the charcoal has been given enough time to stick to your teeth (about 3 minutes), it can be removed. Along with it goes any plaque, surface stains, and food particles. Then, thoroughly rinse your mouth out before brushing your teeth.

It’s important to note that it can be messy to work with, so it is advisable to wear old clothes and protect your sink area with an old towel. If left on your sink, it could stain.

Activated charcoal won’t change the colour of naturally yellowing teeth. You will have to consider professional bleaching kits from your dentist for further whitening.

Is it Safe to Use?

Despite its popularity, there’s no scientific data to back any claims on its’ effectiveness or safety for teeth. Charcoal’s abrasiveness may even do harm by wearing down tooth enamel. It is advisable to proceed with caution and check with your dentist before trying.

Also important to note is that using activated charcoal for teeth whitening should never replace your regular oral hygiene including teeth brushing and flossing and dental checkups.

When it comes to toothpaste made with activated charcoal, it is buyer beware. Not all formulas are created equal. Toothpaste containing activated charcoal should have an abrasiveness rating (RDA) of no more than 200 so that there is no danger of damage to your tooth enamel. Some kinds of toothpaste retain the charcoal’s dark colour and can cause black staining on the tongue. Again, it’s wise to check with your dentist for recommended brands.

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