According to “Statista” – the global market for teeth whitening was worth about $3.15 billion in 2016 and is expected to grow up to $3.78 billion by the year 2021. Such statistics suggest that there is a massive trend for people looking for teeth whitening solutions.

Unfortunately, teeth whitening treatments can be expensive with dental clinics charging as much as $800 to $ 1500 per session. If only there is a way to naturally and effectively whiten teeth at a fraction of the cost. Well, that is precisely what activated charcoal teeth whitening has to offer.

Whiten teeth with charcoal? Are you joking?

Now to clarify, we are not referring to the regular charcoal that you use on your grill. Activated charcoal is different in that it is non-toxic and used in a wide range of medical applications. The material is made from natural sources (usually coconut shells) and has pores all over the surface to trap and bind contaminants.

Activated charcoal is often used to treat health problems like bloating, cholestasis ( a significant decrease in bile flow) and high cholesterol. The charcoal is bland, scentless commonly sold in powder or tablet form.

So what does any of this have to do with teeth whitening?

Despite all appearances, activated charcoal does indeed help with teeth whitening thanks to its’ highly porous surface that binds plaque and gently pulls them away from the teeth and reduce staining in the process. Hence activated charcoal serves to reduce teeth discoloration by removing impurities that sit on top of the tooth enamel a little bit at a time.

Note that activated charcoal only works on the surface and does not alter the color of the teeth. Hence it is often ineffective for deep stains or naturally yellowish teeth both of which require extreme teeth whitening solutions like — Zoom, Smartlight, Smartbleach and the like. Still, it is an excellent preventive measure to help maintain whiter teeth and well worth adding to your dental care regimen.

How safe is it?

Activated charcoal is non-toxic and can be safely ingested in small quantities, but the abrasiveness of the material can damage your teeth even with moderate scrubbing. Hence you have to be very careful to lightly scrape the surface of each tooth during application to avoid scratches or breaks in the tooth enamel.

How is it done?

The primary step in whitening your teeth with activated charcoal is to acquire the mineral from your local natural food shop/pharmacy or better yet, buy what you need from reputable sellers of health and wellness products online.

Typically, the mineral is sold in a tablet so the next action is to grind up 1-2 tablets which should give you up to 2 teaspoons worth of activated charcoal then store in a sterile container. Once the charcoal is a fine dust, add water to form a paste.

To whiten your teeth using activated charcoal, merely apply the paste gently onto your teeth. Things can get messy so dab the paste on the surface of each tooth and avoid making any rubbing action to avoid damaging the enamel surface. Leave the paste on the surface of the teeth for at least 3 minutes which is about all the time it needs to bind the plaque and surface stains. You can then rinse your mouth thoroughly and proceed to brush your teeth as you usually would.

Where to obtain Activated Charcoal?

Most natural health stores carry activated charcoal in tablets or fine powder, and it is likewise available online. You can keep both or whichever form is most convenient for you. If you travel a lot, then you might want to get activated charcoal tablets and grind up small quantities as needed. Make sure that the charcoal is from wood or coconut sources and not petroleum-based as the latter can prove harmful to the body. Do not utilize other forms of charcoal other than activated charcoal in your mouth or internally. Do not use leftover charcoal from a BBQ grill, charcoal pencils or any other type of charcoal for that matter.

Frequently-asked Questions about the use of activated charcoal in teeth whitening

Does activated charcoal stain dental appliances (e.g., crowns, veneers and tooth fillings)?

There are no reports of people ruining the appearance of dental crowns, fillings, and veneers as a result of using activated charcoal. Nevertheless, you should consult with dental care provider if staining is of particular concern to you.

Is it true that activated charcoal deprives the teeth of calcium?

Activated charcoal primarily binds and pulls impurities and not minerals such as calcium which is essential to healthy teeth. Nonetheless, you should consult with a dental care professional to rule out any adverse side effects of using any teeth whitening compound.

How abrasive is activated charcoal?

According to a publication by the “Oral Health and Dental Management,” activated charcoal is more abrasive than toothpaste and water which makes it a legitimate concern for people looking to try it as an alternative teeth whitening solution.

If you have beautiful teeth or concerned about the abrasive quality of activated charcoal, then know that you can mitigate any damage to the tooth surface by avoiding any brushing or scrubbing movement. Just dab activated charcoal paste onto the surface of your teeth using one finger or a cotton swab. You can then leave it one for at least 2 minutes before rinsing with water. Doing so would enable the activated charcoal to come in contact with impurities and safely pull them out of the teeth with no danger to the enamel.

What kind and degree of staining can activated charcoal help you with?

The use of activated charcoal for whitening teeth only works on surface area spots that its’ porous material is capable of binding to. This is the kind of tooth staining you would typically get due to smoking or drinking coffee/tea.

If your tooth discoloration is due to internal problems with tooth structure or prescription antibiotics, then activated charcoal may not be the best solution. You will need a teeth whitening solution capable of penetrating the surface of the tooth enamel as is the case with professional laser teeth whitening solutions.