Over the years, activated charcoal has been scrutinised, studied and appreciated for its natural properties. This may be due to the fact that activated charcoal looks like black powder which can be used in an emergency situation as a poison antidote or because has been touted as a cure-all treatment by many health gurus.
Can I Really Whiten My Teeth With Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal promises brighter teeth entirely without chemicals. In this article, you’ll read why the natural whitener works – and still damages teeth in the long run.
In recent years, activated charcoal has become increasingly popular as an alternative to chemical teeth whitening.
Numerous testimonials on the Internet clearly show, with before-and-after pictures, that charcoal can indeed lighten the shade.
Unfortunately, however, most bloggers forget about the risks involved in brushing teeth with activated charcoal.
That’s why you can read all the important facts here:
- Not only do I go into detail about how activated charcoal works, but I also explain why it can actually discolor teeth more in the long run.
- In addition, I present a few effective alternatives to charcoal – both inexpensive home remedies and effective but expensive treatments at the doctor’s office
How activated charcoal is used
Nowadays, activated charcoal (for teeth) can be purchased in several forms at once:
- Powder – Activated carbon is available as a conventional black powder without any additives.
- Capsules – These are bitten into the mouth before brushing and facilitate the application.
- As an additive – More and more manufacturers are adding activated charcoal to their toothpastes to improve the effect.
The following section first discusses pure activated carbon in powder form (such as available here * on Amazon). This is also followed by experiences with activated carbon as an additive in toothpaste.
The mode of action of activated carbon
In the advertisement of the manufacturers is again and again from the “cleaning effect of the coal” the speech.
- In fact, (activated) charcoal has been used in medicine for centuries – even today it is still used in tablets, which absorb toxins from the gastrointestinal tract.
- The reason for this becomes clear under the microscope: other substances can easily adhere to the rough surface. Activated carbon thus actually binds pollution & pollutants to itself.
However, the benefit of activated carbon in cosmetic products is controversial.The tooth whitening effect has namely another reason:
Why is activated carbon harmful to teeth?
In the short term, the black powder removes impurities from the teeth – however, the main reason for this is not any secret properties, but simply the powder itself.
- The grains of the coal act namely like a kind of sandpaper, which scrubs discolorations from the teeth. After a few uses, the teeth can actually become brighter as a result.
- Conventional toothpaste cleans the teeth in the same way.In addition to ingredients such as fluoride, especially in the toothpaste contained small cleaning particles for a bright smile.
Compared to toothpaste, however, activated charcoal has a much higher abrasion. And that’s exactly why it’s advisable to avoid using the black powder (or even other whitening agents such as baking soda)
The powder abrades the enamel & roughens the teeth
If the high abrasion really does provide brighter teeth in the short term, the use of activated charcoal can have the exact opposite effect in the long term.
- The grains wear away the protective layer of the teeth bit by bit and lead especially in old age to painful & expensive dental problems.
- In addition, you roughen the surface of the teeth with it – making it easier for plaque and color pigments to adhere over time.
So brushing regularly with activated charcoal is not only risky for your dental health, but can also negatively affect the natural shade of your teeth.
If you see activated charcoal at DM or other drugstores, it’s better to leave it on the shelf.
Does this also apply to toothpaste with activated charcoal or only to the powder?
Activated charcoal is not only available in powder form (which has a MUCH too high abrasion), but is increasingly used in activated charcoal masks, soaps, or even as an additive in regular toothpastes.
Read more here: Black toothpaste in a practical test.
The risk of broken teeth is not quite as great with this type of toothpaste, as manufacturers must comply with legal requirements.
Whether activated charcoal in toothpaste really does make teeth more beautiful has not been proven beyond doubt.
Despite this, you should remain skeptical, because in most cases activated charcoal seems to be just a selling point for marketing:
- Activated charcoal can indeed bind pollutants to itself – but by the time you open the tube at home, the charcoal has already been in contact with the other ingredients of the toothpaste for weeks (and has thus already lost the pollutant-binding effect).
- Possibly the activated carbon also increases the abrasion – although toothpaste with high abrasion is not automatically harmful, you should especially with sensitive teeth better on a sensitive variant. This cleans particularly gently.
Info: The abrasion is indicated by the way by means of RDA value. Normal toothpastes have a value between 40-80.
Summary: So useful is activated carbon for the teeth
Whether the black powder really works as claimed by the manufacturers, may therefore be doubted.
While there are still no long-term scientific studies, there is much to suggest that the activated charcoal contained in toothpaste has long since reacted with other ingredients by the time it is brushed and no longer has any effect in the mouth.
There is no doubt, on the other hand, about the risks of too much abrasion – especially as a pure powder, activated charcoal can permanently damage teeth and even lead to more discoloration & gingivitis.
What are the alternatives to activated charcoal?
If you want to use activated charcoal primarily for white teeth, then there are some other options for removing tooth discoloration.
In this white teeth guide, I go over the causes of discoloration & the most effective measures to remove it. So it’s best to read on there if the topic interests you.
- Important: You should not expect miracles from natural teeth whiteners – most of the time you can only get back the genetically determined shade of your teeth with it.
- If you wish to have your teeth whitened beyond this, then this is usually only possible with chemical aids (i.e. professional tooth whitening in a doctor’s practice).
If anyone wants to sell you a supposed miracle cure, you should therefore be skeptical.
Coconut oil as a natural alternative to coal
Unlike activated charcoal, the positive benefits of coconut oil have been scientifically proven – read more in the related article Coconut Oil for Teeth.
However, experts also see this effective home remedy only as a supplement to a solid dental hygiene with toothbrush & floss. So it doesn’t hurt to keep the following in mind when it comes to tooth whitening remedies:
Conventional tooth brushing is the most effective remedy for naturally beautiful teeth
No superfood and no secret trick from the Internet can replace thorough tooth brushing with proper technique
- Scrubbing with a brush not only removes yellow plaque, but also prevents staining substances from attaching to teeth.
- The use of dental floss also cleans the interdental spaces, where quite a lot of bacteria accumulate, which lead to bad breath & stains.
Spending 5 minutes a day for brushing thus represents the most effective (and in the long run certainly cheapest way) for beautiful & white teeth.
Whiten teeth naturally without activated carbon
Most of us have some catching up to do when it comes to dental hygiene, which is why I’ve written numerous guides on this site about various aspects of dental care
You don’t have to follow everything perfectly – but if you’re not brushing as thoroughly as you should, for example, then one of the following tools might be worthwhile:
Electric toothbrushes – With the right technique, even a manual toothbrush will do. However, electric devices (which include toothbrushes such as the Oral-B Pro 6000, sonic toothbrushes such as the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean, and ultrasonic toothbrushes) are more convenient & compensate for bad habits.
Dental floss – who really uses it every day? If you can’t handle it, there are other varieties such as sticks and interdental brushes.
Mouth showers – Flossers also swear by these products, which clean the interdental spaces using a water jet. It’s quick & easier for many.
If you want to learn more about white teeth and teeth whitening, then you best read on here
I hope to have helped with this guide on activated carbon. Please also recommend the article to acquaintances & friends.