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One question I get from time to time is how to whiten your teeth without using harsh and toxic chemicals. Most of the teeth whitening systems on the market today use ingredients that may not be all that safe for our bodies. If you’ve made the switch to more natural living, you may be looking for a non-toxic way to brighten your smile.
Enter activated charcoal. Cheap, effective, and non-toxic.
What is Activated Charcoal + Why Does it Work for Whitening Teeth?
Instead of spending hundreds of dollars at the dentist and exposing yourself to harmful, toxic chemicals that you find in traditional teeth whitening trays, gels and strips, try using activated charcoal instead. It’s not as harsh on your teeth and gums and is a more natural route for teeth whitening. You need to protect your delicate gum tissue and tooth enamel for long-lasting oral health.
Charcoal is a black residue that consists of carbon and any remaining ash, obtained from wood, bone, coal or other organic substances. When it’s combined with high temperatures and a gas or activating agent that expands its surface area, it becomes “activated charcoal.”
This black substance may be familiar to you if you work in a hospital or have ever taken a trip to the ER resulting from ingesting toxins or chemicals, or needing your stomach pumped. They often use activated charcoal to absorb toxins in the body, like when you experience food poisoning, alcohol poisoning, or a drug overdose. The charcoal passes through your GI system, enabling the toxins or chemicals adhere to it. Then it is discharged through the digestive system. Yes, your poop will be black. 😉
So activated charcoal works wonders for your body when you ingest poison, but what does it do to your teeth?
Because activated charcoal aggressively absorbs tannins, the compounds found in drinks and foods that can stain your teeth over time, like tea, coffee, wine, blueberries, and spices, it’s very effective for teeth whitening. It also balances the pH level in your mouth to protect your teeth and gums from the growth of pathogens and formation of cavities.
It’s available in loose powder form or in capsules, which you can find online like here on Amazon. You can also find it at your local health food stores and even some drug stores and regular grocery stores.
It’s tasteless and odorless and WILL NOT stain your teeth black, like many skeptics will have you believe. I remember the first time I did it I was SO nervous! But then I saw how well it worked and the fear was gone!
When it comes to choosing an activated charcoal, brand really doesn’t matter. I’ve discussed this with a few other practitioners and some say that you should only get the expensive stuff (like this Bulletproof® Coconut Charcoal here), while others really have not found that there is a need to buy the really expensive stuff.
The brand I typically keep on hand is this Nature’s Way® Activated Charcoal, but honestly I just buy whatever is the best price on Amazon. Some of the other brands I’ve tried are:
- Swanson Activated Charcoal
- Solaray Activated Charcoal
- Source Naturals Pure Activated Charcoal
- Country Life Activated Charcoal
They all work the same on my teeth and in my gut as far as I can tell. 🙂
Why I Chose Activated Charcoal for My Teeth
I really have not had many issues with yellow teeth for most of my life. That said, a few years ago when I started drinking my popular herbal coffees more frequently, I noticed that it was slowly staining my teeth and giving them a dingy look. The staining was never super bad, but it was enough for me to become a bit self-conscious, especially my two front teeth.
These two front teeth have small grooves smack dab in the front of the tooth and I noticed that I started getting little streaks of darkness showing up in those grooves.
The first time I ever noticed it was in this photo. My teeth looked so dingy and dark. This picture was taken when I had first given up coffee and was drinking a TON of herbal coffee, which I think was the main reason my teeth were staining since that was really the only food or beverage that I could attribute it too.
I became really self-concious about it, but was not going to give up my beloved herbal coffee so I knew I needed to figure something out. I didn’t want to use chemical whiteners and I had a friend recommend activated charcoal.
I always, always, always have activated charcoal on hand. It’s great for when our stomachs may feel a little sour, or perhaps we picked up a stomach bug when dining out. Activated charcoal is my natural Pepto-Bismol® and it works really great for both myself and my husband (and pretty much everyone else that I know).
Since then, I have been using activated charcoal on my teeth about one time every 3 months and my smile is staying white and bright, even though I am still drinking a lot of herbal teas and coffee. My teeth in general don’t get as dingy as the picture above since I am using charcoal on a regular basis now.
How to Get a Whiter Smile with Charcoal
Ironically enough, you can get a white smile with this black activated charcoal.
Before you start though, be warned that this type of application is quite messy. I do not recommend wearing good clothes while you apply it. No matter how safe you try to be, I’m sure you’ll get some of it on you or splashed around the sink or your bathroom. Cleaning the mess afterwards will be required because it can stain everything.
- First, open a capsule either straight into your mouth or in a small glass bowl. Be sure to close the empty capsule and wrap it in tissue before throwing it away or it could stain your trash bin. If you’re using the powdered form, put about 1 teaspoon into a small bowl.
- Then, using a designated toothbrush for activated charcoal use only, wet it under the faucet and dip it into the charcoal. Brush your teeth with it, moving in small, gentle circles for about 2-3 minutes. (DO NOT scrub your teeth hard as that can damage your enamel.) If you dumped the capsule contents straight into your mouth, just start brushing your teeth with the wet toothbrush.
- Next, spit the residue carefully and rinse your mouth a few times with water.
- Finally, to wash all of the charcoal off your teeth and leave your mouth feeling refreshed, you may want to brush your teeth like you typically do with your normal toothbrush and toothpaste. I also find that my Waterpik® is amazing for not only cleaning up the remaining charcoal residue, but improving my dental health all the way around.
- If you have really stained teeth, you may need to do this process every day for a week. You will likely notice a brighter, whiter and cleaner difference with your teeth after one application. Once you have achieved your desired whiteness, you can cut back to doing an application every month (or 3 months in my case). I don’t recommend doing this all the time (like every week or multiple times a week for a long stretch of time) because there are some vague reports that it can eventually damage your enamel if used too frequently, though I have not found solid proof of this.
- TIP: To keep the black mess to a minimum in your bathroom and around your sink, you can always apply the activated charcoal and go through the process in your shower. Then it’s contained to your bathtub and won’t be as messy with the water constantly rinsing the area.