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Does Activated Charcoal Whiten Teeth? Is it safe?

Jan 19, 2019Cosmetic Dentistry, Oral health

Activated charcoal is the talk of the town nowadays. You must have scrolled down your feed and must have seen someone brushing their teeth with something black. It’s very hard to not see someone talking about it or using it for teeth whitening purpose. It’s an old age material, with various uses and has gained recognition now. It is a multi-beneficial thing; one can smear it on the face, wash hair with, or even brush teeth with it. Activated charcoal is new to the health and wellness care, it has only been used for some time.

Activated charcoal is a black powder which is finely mined from the shells of coconut, coal, and other materials. It is processed with high heat that activates it which makes it more porous than regular charcoal.  It is showing up in every form, from supplements to pressed juices and even to beauty products. It is also being used to overcome a lot of health issues, such as kidney disease, high cholesterol. Natural skin treatments are also being followed up by activated charcoal, it is being used to purify the pores and treat acne.

Increasing Trend of Teeth Whitening

Activated charcoal has also made its way to oral care aisle, there are different brands now marketing various versions of activated charcoal toothpaste, one thing they all have in common is, they all claim to clean and whiten teeth and also aim to eliminate bad breath. From the past decade, teeth whitening have become a global industry.

There are an array of dental products available now, which contain activated charcoal. All are displayed on store shelves, from toothpaste to kits. All the products that contain this ingredient also aim to remove stains of coffee, wine, and plaque. If a person has naturally darker teeth, then this works as a perfect bleaching ingredient.

How does it work on teeth?

  • The activated charcoal consists of pores which bind with the rough parts on teeth.
  • It usually binds where the surface is stained and has plaques, which make it easier to remove the yellow substances.
  • The charcoal sticks to the teeth very quickly, once enough time is given for it to stick to teeth. Once it is removed, the minerals of activated charcoal take the plaque, food particles and surface stains with it.
  • After brushing it is very important to spit out the charcoal properly to avoid any blackness on the corners of teeth. So keep repeating it until you see shiny white teeth.

This is how activated charcoal whitens teeth by getting rid of surface stains. There is a wrong perception that activated charcoal changes the color of teeth. It just removes the deep stains and yellowness of the teeth. If activated charcoal does not even work then more drastic whitening measures would have to be taken, such as bleaching the teeth.

Safe for whitening teeth

People have always been skeptical about the safety of activated charcoal. They are often seen questioning various practitioners about the safety of the product. It tastes quite fine, it’s odorless and tasteless and hence, it’s alright to ingest it. Activated charcoal has been approved by FDA for various health uses. The American Dental Association are also experimenting it, so they could also approve activated charcoal for the use in dentistry. Many types of research are conducted suggest on using activated charcoal on teeth as it is very effective in absorbing plaque and other compounds that stain teeth. It basically means that activated charcoal has chemical properties which work as a natural teeth whitener. It is recommended that people use it three times a week if they are suffering from any oral disease. In case of any oral disease, it is recommended to only use it once a week.

However, activated charcoal toothpaste is too abrasive for enamel. Since teeth don’t replenish, using this sought of chemical substance could diminish the enamel. Hence, it is often suggested to smear the product on teeth instead of brushing it as this would allow the product to effectively whiten teeth without causing any harm to the enamel. Activated charcoal powder scores about a 70 to 90 on the RDA (Relative Dental Abrasivity) scale while most whitening toothpaste score between 100 to 200 RDA. Hence, the score needs to be checked for abrasiveness.

The ability to whiten teeth exists in its porosity and the damage resides in its abrasiveness. It is extremely important to find good charcoal toothpaste which is not too abrasive.

There are some things to know before a person starts using activated charcoal as a teeth whitener.

  • Only brush teeth once a week with it for a small time period even if teeth feel normal to a person.
  • Don’t forget that charcoal is an abrasive ingredient and harsh use of it would break the enamel; hence use it gently and softly.
  • If a person is facing a lot of recession in the gum tissue, then avoid using it or else teeth would become sensitive due to its abrasiveness.
  • In case of any sort of bleeding or gum disease, the person should stop using activated charcoal and if someone already has gum disease then activated charcoal is not preferred.


Activated charcoal is one of the most recent trends on social media. As the majority of the bloggers and influencers are uploading tutorials on how to use activated charcoal as a means of whitening teeth. It is also one of the best alternates to expensive teeth whitening treatments by dentists. As it benefits people from all social classes. Apart from being so available to everyone, it is also very convenient as the procedure is just like how people brush their teeth every day. The score for abrasiveness needs to be checked before using it anyhow. However, the American Dental Association needs a lot of study and research to declare it completely safe hence it is very important to consult a dental practitioner before going ahead with any kind of teeth whitening procedure.

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