Activated charcoal is an extremely absorbent and porous substance. This fine-grained black powder is created from a mixture of natural substances such as slowly burned wood, coconut shells, peat, and olive pits. Once it’s oxidized under high heat, it becomes activated. Its absorbent natures allow it to remove toxins and odors.
Because activated charcoal doesn’t get absorbed by your body, all the toxins and chemicals that bind to it pass through the GI system and get expelled by the digestive system.
Don’t confuse activated charcoal with the one you use for barbecuing. They may look similar but barbecue charcoal is made to be a fuel and releases carbon dioxide when heated. Plus it’s really harmful to your body if ingested, whereas activated charcoal is completely safe.
In the early 1800s, activated charcoal began to grow in popularity as a treatment for accidental ingestion of poison. Two men survived lethal doses of arsenic and other poisons when they mixed it with activated charcoal powder. Making activated charcoal good to have around the house in case of any type of poisoning, including food poisoning.
Activated Charcoal for Teeth Whitening
There is a great variety of dental products with activated charcoal, from toothpaste to kits, found at your local store shelves. These products claim to remove wine stains, coffee stains, and plaque. Although activated charcoal is popular, there is currently no scientific evidence backing up its benefits for teeth. Which is one of the reasons you won’t find the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance.
According to the ADA, charcoal’s abrasive texture may even damage your teeth by wearing down the enamel. However, despite the lack of scientific studies, many people swear that activated charcoal was able to whiten their teeth and remove stains.
How to Use Charcoal to Whiten Teeth
If you want to whiten your teeth with activated charcoal, you can purchase it in capsules or as a powder. Keep in mind that activated charcoal can stain countertops and fabrics. Everyone will have slightly different techniques of using it, but here is one that we recommend. This process should take around 5 minutes once you master it.
You should have two different toothbrushes, one for activated charcoal and the other for cleaning your mouth afterward. Having a cup for rinsing will also help.
Get your toothbrush wet and dip into the powdered charcoal. If you have the charcoal in a capsule, dump that on your toothbrush.
Place the charcoal-covered toothbrush into the mouth.
Very gently, brush in small circles to cover all of your teeth in charcoal. Allow to sit for 2 minutes.
Spit and rinse your mouth until it’s clean and free of charcoal.
Use the second clean toothbrush to clear out any remaining charcoal.
Some people choose to brush their mouth with regular toothpaste after this. However, it’s very important that your mouth is completely clean from charcoal to avoid damaging your enamel.
Precautions for using activated charcoal
Because activated charcoal is abrasive, it should never be scrubbed on brushed on teeth. It should be used sparingly and applied very gently. Constant use of activated charcoal may lead to teeth erosion and sensitivity.
“People with sensitive teeth should apply activated charcoal to their teeth using their finger or a cotton swab,” says Dr. Alex Khabensky, DDS, a cosmetic dentist in Brooklyn, NY. “Allow it to remain on the surface of your teeth for two minutes before rinsing.”
Activated charcoal should not be used by children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. It also contains other ingredients such as sorbitol. This artificial sweetener may cause allergic reactions for some people and has a laxative effect when too much is ingested. It’s recommended to consult with your dentist prior to using activated charcoal to see if it will be safe for your teeth.