Does Activated Charcoal Whiten Teeth?

We humans do love a trend, and the new fad seems to be activated charcoal. You can’t spend an hour or two on any online forum without stumbling across a conversation, or sometimes an argument, on activated charcoal and its various benefits – especially teeth whitening.

Funny thing is, this “silver bullet” has been around for a while.

What Is Activated Charcoal?

In 1834, an American physician named Hort reportedly saved the life of a patient who had swallowed mercury bi-chloride by administering oral charcoal. After that breakthrough, charcoal was further refined, purified, and activated to improve its absorptive powers.

It has since grown in acceptance as a material that has medicinal and healing properties, the most famous being teeth whitening.

Activated charcoal is created by grinding bone char, sawdust, coal, coconut shells, and other materials. It is then heated at very high temperatures, thus activating it. The heat makes it more permeable than household charcoal, enabling it to strip stains from your teeth.

How Does Activated Charcoal Toothpaste Work?

Activated charcoal is different from the usual household charcoal in that is has a more abundant, and oxidized surface area. This oxidized surface area creates a negative charge that allows it to bind with surface staining molecules from liquids and foods (tea, coffee, plaque).

Due to its permeability, it acts as a magnet and does a great job of cleaning up the various molecules that stain your teeth.

This process results in whiter teeth once you spit out the activated charcoal from your mouth. However, its effectiveness stops with stains.

How to Whiten your Teeth with Activated Charcoal Toothpaste?

Firstly, a public service announcement. If you have sensitive teeth, then activated charcoal whitening toothpaste might not be for you. You can speak to a dental consultant from on safer options for whitening your sensitive teeth.

To safely use activated charcoal toothpaste (remember ultimate safety is once every other week), you should do the following:

  1. Pour the powder into a cup and add a teaspoon of water, then mix to form a paste if you are using the powder. If you are using the toothpaste, apply to your toothpaste as you would typically do for the regular toothpaste.
  2. Gently apply the paste on your teeth rather than vigorously brushing as you usually do – vigorous brushing can lead to enamel damage.
  3. Wait for 3 minutes, allowing the activated charcoal to bind to the surface stains on your teeth.
  4. After 3 minutes, rinse your teeth several times.
  5. Rinse your toothbrush several times, then use the rinsed toothbrush to brush your teeth again. Rinsing clears up any remaining charcoal particles and stains.

Is Activated Charcoal Teeth Whitening Powder/Toothpaste Safe?

While activated charcoal teeth whitening seems to be the natural teeth whitening remedy of the moment, the problem with it is in its abrasiveness.

Yes, it’s affordable, especially if you can’t afford the cost of the in-office whitening procedure or a laser whitening option. However, you also need to consider the safety of your enamel.

In its September 2017 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association, the American Dental Association (ADA) boldly state that no evidence shows dental products with charcoal are safe or effective for your teeth.

Oral health brands claim that their activated charcoal toothpaste can do a myriad of wonders to your teeth, including stopping bad breath. However, these claims have no conclusive research to back them up.

While some people claim that activated charcoal whitening works for them and posit other health benefits from using this natural tooth-whitening remedy, there aren’t any long-term studies on the benefits of activated charcoal as a tooth whitening solution.