Whiten Your Teeth Naturally With No Dangerous Chemicals

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist December 18, 2012

By Heather Dessinger of Mommypotamus

Do You Ever Wonder . . .

About the people who write product warnings? Consider the things they tell us not to swallow:

  • hangers (man I was going to try that!)
  • iPods (um, WHAT?)
  • tooth whitening gels

Okay, on that last one I have a real question: How am I supposed to not swallow for 20 minutes while stuff fizzes out of a plastic tray into my mouth?

The answer, of course, is that I’m not. Package inserts are often more about reducing liability than educating the consumer. Case in point? Printing “may irritate eyes” on a can of pepper spray, and the “warnings” about gum irritation that come with tooth whiteners. If they really wanted to educate consumers, the label would say:

WARNING: This product is likely to contain coal tar, fluoride, aspartame, aluminum and benzene and has demonstrated acute toxicological effects in rats, including but not limited to labored breathing, bloody urine, infertility and incontinence. (source1, source 2)

Fortunately, there’s an easier, cheaper, and completely natural way to whiten your teeth in less than 3 minutes a day. It’s one of the six tooth care recipes I share in my brand new ebook, DIY Organic Beauty Recipes. And like many truly healthy options, the solution seems almost counter-intuitive. Eat fat to lose fat? Check! Brush your teeth with something that looks like squid ink for a dazzling, pearly white smile? Surprisingly, that works, too.

Activated Charcoal: The Secret To Naturally White Teeth

Activated charcoal – also called activated carbon – is made by processing charcoal with oxygen and either calcium chloride or zinc chloride. It was used medicinally by both Hippocrates and the ancient Egyptians, and it is still the poison remedy of choice in modern day emergency rooms. Why? Because it’s highly adsorptive, which in plain English means it attracts substances to its surface like a magnet. Like absorptive substances which work like a sponge, adsorptive materials bind with certain compounds and prevent our bodies from using them.

Fortunately for us, activated charcoal is a bit particular about what it locks onto. It’s not interested in calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, inorganic phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc and other compounds you probably want to hang onto (including your tooth enamel). It does, however, happen to like tannins – the compounds found in coffee, tea (even herbal tea), blueberries, wine and spices like cinnamon that stain our teeth. As a bonus, activated charcoal also balances the mouth’s pH and is even considered beneficial enough to be used in some tooth re-mineralization formulas.

So, are you ready to give it a try? Good!

No wait, there is something I forgot to tell you. This is really important so I hope you’re scrunched up to your screen nice and close. Ready? Okay! Folks, this stuff WORKS. When you start noticing children in grocery carts and little old ladies hovering in your vicinity, you don’t need to go check your makeup in the mirror. They just want to see you smile again. Okay? As someone who used to pop in whitening trays every day I was skeptical, but give this stuff a week or two and you’ll be amazed. Okay, moving on!

How To Whiten Your Teeth With Activated Charcoal

There is no “right” way to whiten teeth with activated charcoal. Koreans put it in their toothpaste, Crunchy Betty swishes with it, and some people simply brush it on straight. Personally, I prefer the following method:

  1. Open a capsule of activated charcoal (about 1/8 teaspoon) and pour about half into a cup.
  2. Wet your toothbrush and dip it in the charcoal, then brush gently. Keep in mind that you are not trying to scrub your enamel, you are simply massaging the surface of your teeth with the activated charcoal so that it can attract tannins like a magnet.
  3. After brushing, hold it in your mouth for 2-3 minutes to allow it to continue to work.
  4. Spit and rinse thoroughly, then follow with a second brushing using your regular tooth powder/paste.
  5. Now look in the mirror and smile. You may see a difference with the first application. If not, give it a few days to a week and I promise you will!

Want More Recipes?

In my new 180 page guide, DIY Organic Beauty Recipes, I’ll show you how to boost the whitening power of activated charcoal with a minty-fresh mouthwash. You’ll also discover how ridiculously easy it is to make your own beauty products: Quick yet luxurious gifts for the holiday season, fabulous shampoos, conditioners, body sprays, lotions, deodorants, baby products and more!

* Activated charcoal does bind with iodine and may bind with other vitamins and minerals the body needs, so it is not usually recommended for internal use except when dealing with acute situations such as chemical or food poisoning. Activated charcoal does not work in situations where the material ingested is caustic, such as lye.

About Heather

Heather Dessinger, aka The Mommypotamus, is a wife, blogger and mom to two amazing kiddos, both waterborn at home. She loves all things fermenty, talks to sock puppets, and dreams of owning her very own flock of backyard chickens. She is the author of two ebooks. Nourished Baby is a simple guide to introducing real food to little ones, and DIY Organic Beauty Recipes is a collection of 50+ beauty and personal care product recipes that really work.

 

More Information on Nutrition and Oral Health

Toddler’s Severe Tooth Decay Halted in 5 Days

Whiten Your Teeth Without Dangerous Chemicals

Natural Alternative to Dangerous Baby Teething Gels

Resolving Periodontal Problems with Bone Broth

Coconut Oil Stops Strep Bacteria from Damaging Tooth Enamel

What is the True Cause of Crooked Teeth?

10 Signs Your Dentist is Truly Holistic

Avoiding Root Canals with Diet Alone

Could the Cause of Your Illness Be Right Under Your Nose?

Most Wisdom Tooth Extractions Totally Unnecessary

 

Comments (142)

  1. Thanks for this tip, the last time I had a cleaning the hygenist cleaned off the stains on the underside of my lower front teeth, but did nothing for the stains on the outside of my teeth, the aspect that’s actually visible. I did notice that the office was big on promoting their teeth whitening services. I drink a lot of herbal tea, and my herbal mouthwash can be staining. I will definitely give this a try, one more tool in my self-care tool-kit.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: How To Whiten Your Teeth Naturally With No Dangerous Chemicals « The Mommypotamus The Mommypotamus

    • Started doing this DIY natural remedy Wednesday of this week, I saw results on my first try! I do it twice a day and follow it by a regular brushing, its works!

      Reply
    • baking soda is harsh on your enamel. If you use it for a long period of time, you will eventually find your teeth becoming sensitive — because you’ve taken away the enamel. I know this from experience. Be careful

      Reply
  3. You can buy it at walgreens, or the grocery store, too generally. I found mine in the section by the “antacids” and stuff for indigestion or gas.

    Reply
  4. Thank you Heather for this posting. This topic is so timely since I have been giving a lot of thought on what I can do to whiten my teeth. I recently started using tooth chips (soap for teeth) and Herbal Tooth from Rose of Sharon Acres which I really like.

    I have some activated charcoal for mascara recipe so I will have to give this a try. I’m glad I didn’t throw out the activated charcoal because the first mascara recipe I tried did not work but I came across another recipe which I’m going to try. I asked my husband for your book so I hope I it will be under our Christmas tree!

    Reply
  5. Jean Market via Facebook December 18, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    All you need is to rinse with peroxide for 1 min before brushing! It’s great to fight gum disease too and costs 89cents a bottle. I’m a Dental Hygienist.

    Reply
  6. Donna Marie Chapin via Facebook December 18, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    I always encourage people not to use whitening strips. I used them for one week, got a huge cavity on my front tooth, and had to have a root canal. This, of course, was before I knew about the dangers of root canals. Before I used the strip, there was not even a hint of decay on the tooth, and then so quickly a huge cavity developed. I know it was the strips.

    Reply
  7. Jody Renninger via Facebook December 18, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Whoot! Can’t WAIT to try it! I’ve been thinking there must be a healthy solution for whiter teeth but I didn’t know what it was. Thanks Sarah!

    Reply
  8. Could someone please post the mascara recipe. My current tube is about done and I don’t want to buy another commercial product. Thanks. Love your blog Sarah!!

    Reply
  9. Here is the mascara recipe. I haven’t tried it yet so if you try it Deb, let me know how it goes.

    2 tsp coconut oil
    4 tsp aloe vera gel
    1/2 tsp grated bees wax (grate then measure)
    1 — 2 capsules of activated charcoal
    a clean mascara container (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005UGVIQ4/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B005UGVIQ4&linkCode=as2&tag=than01-20)

    1. Put coconut oil, aloe vera gel, and grated bees wax in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until beeswax is completely melted.
    2. Open 1 — 2 capsules of activated charcoal (depending on desired color, about 1/4 — 1/2 tsp) and pour into oil mixture. Stir until completely incorporated. Remove from heat.
    3. Pour into a small plastic bag, pushing the mixture down to one corner. Then cut a very small hole in the opposite corner of the bag.
    4. Fold the corner with the cut whole until you have a small tip that you can push into the empty mascara tube. (It’s much easier if you have an extra set of hands nearby to hold the tube in place!) Make sure the tip goes far enough into the tube or you’ll have a big mess on your hands!
    5. Keep the small-hole-end securely in the tube (or get your helper to hold it in place). Begin pressing the mascara mixture toward the tube. Don’t move too quickly or it will come out and you’ll have mess to deal with. (I highly recommend doing this with a paper towel or napkin underneath.) Keep moving the mixture into the tube until it’s all in.
    6. Place the inner cap in place and then twist the wand on tightly.

    Reply
    • I saw this recipe online a while ago. I want to try it so badly but I’m allergic to coconut. There doesn’t seem to be any decent substitute for coconut oil in most recipes because it thickens at room temperature unlike most oils or butters. I haven’t worn any makeup in over a year now, I miss it.

      Reply
      • You can wear mascara again…use a frozen blackberry that has set for about 3 minutes( they are juicier than fresh and easier to store), rub a q-tip to get berry juice on it and then dip into some spurlina powder to make it a litte darker then put in lashes :)

        Reply
  10. I use 3 T baking soda, 1 tablet charcoal and 2 tablets probiotic, mix. dip braush and brush. works great for bad breath whoiteing and cleanig. add essoil kif you want fovor. 1or 2 frops befoe you mix

    Reply
  11. Brooke Harbertson Todd via Facebook December 18, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    So excited to try this!!! I’m a dental hygienist and feel like I need to have a dazzling smile, but I refuse to use the whitening gels. Thanks!!!!

    Reply
  12. Sarah Couture Pope via Facebook December 18, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Activated charcoal works way better than swishing with hydrogen peroxide in my experience. Like, tons better.

    Reply
  13. Oh this is so cool! I have had a bag of activated charcoal for a year and had not dared to try it on anything! Thank you! I usually use baking soda..so, I am anxious to try this! Also, if you go to bulkherbstore.com and look around, they have other uses for activated charcoal. (:

    Reply
  14. how fabulous. love when the thing you think NOT to do is the very thing that works, ie eat fat to lost fat, use activated charcoal to whiten teeth. thanks so much and i’ll definitely try this!

    Reply
  15. I found that once I switched from store bought milk to raw milk my teeth got noticeably whiter in 3-4 weeks. It was a dramatic change. I’m guessing that the calcium in raw milk is much more absorbable than in pasturized milk.

    Reply
  16. I just tried this and I could easily notice a difference. I guess my toothbrush will be black by the end of the week, but I can already tell my teeth will be nice and white. Thanks!

    Reply
  17. Joy O'Hare via Facebook December 18, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Small grammatical error but “it’s” when used possessively does not have an apostrophe. Otherwise you are saying “it is”. I noticed one someone in the article. Otherwise, thanks for the tip!

    Reply
  18. This sounds awesome…I will definitely give this a try. My son’s adult teeth have started to come in and they are noticeably much more yellow then the baby teeth the dentist whitened when he was 5 while fixing his cavities. I didn’t know anything about Cod Liver Oil and Butter Oil back then. His adult teeth also have white spots…I believe from fluoride. Does this taste bad? He is nine now and I am trying everything to undue what has been done…thanks!

    Reply
  19. This is another excellent use for activated charcoal, I hope everyone tries it! Charcoal is such an essential part of the home “real medicine” cabinet…it is wonderful for nausea, diarrhea, toxicity (great for GAPS detoxing, too), even sore throats! (check out my recent post for more on that) You can buy it in bulk. Never wanting to be without it, I buy charcoal by the bucket from: http://www.buyactivatedcharcoal.com/medicinal_charcoal
    gabi\’s last post: Radically Natural Healing for Coughs and Sore Throats

    Reply
  20. Hmm I will give it a try… but I am pretty sure that I just have naturally yucky coloured teeth :( Sure they may be a bit stained… but honestly as far as I remember my teeth have always been yellowish (two of my kids are the same… so I have to assume it’s just an inherited yucky colour?!).

    But yeah… it’s always worth a try! (And I don’t bother with trying to bleach my teeth as it’s never worked… I’ve always sort of figured I’d need to save for veneers in order to achieve pretty teeth)!

    Reply
  21. I did this last week and it worked really well. My teeth were yellow and have some embarrassingly dark stains on them. My boyfriend mentioned something about buying a store bought tooth whitener but I wanted to try a more natural route first. They were noticeably whiter after just one application. It didn’t even make a big mess which I had been worried about. Does anyone know if it’s safe enough to do every day until they are white enough or should I give my teeth a break and only do it once a week?

    Reply
  22. Ok I gotta try it – ordered from Vitacost and we’ll see! Seems backwards to brush your teeth with something black but hey, whatever works and isn’t toxic! Thanks for the great tip.

    Reply
  23. Would this activated charcoal work in a detox situation? My doctor says I have a fatty liver and to cut back on fats and take 2-400mg vitamin E pills a day. I have no plan to stop my traditional fats or cod liver oil and high vitamin butter oil. I believe the problems with my liver stem from the 3 hydrocodone pain pills I take every day with tylenol. I want to find some way to detox my body and see if this helps me. I also want to find some program to get off the pain pills period.

    Reply
  24. i wanted to know if you have porclean crowns can you use this method, i made the mistake of having dental work done before i discoverd your website and nourishing traditions approach. also i have been usoinf artic cod liver liquid for 2years from whole foods had and you mentioned not to get store bought so where to you get your cod liver oil from ?

    Reply
  25. Anybody have a recipe for making activated charcoal at home? I remember looking online sometime ago for how to make it myself and was disappointed by what I found online as none of it leant itself to my trying it out at home…

    Reply
  26. So, I have an entire large can of activated charcoal and perpetually stained teeth, so I thought I would try this. Not unpleasant, though I felt massaging the charcoal around with my finger was more effective than the tooth brush. I can notice a difference! Awesome! That said, I have black charcoal residue stuck in my gum line. That isn’t to assume everyone will have this issue… But to be safe maybe don’t do this before a date or a job interview. I think it should go away, we’ll see what the morning brings. I think I’ll keep it up, being mindful of doing it on a few day at home stretch. :)

    Reply
  27. I am very interested in trying this but have one question. I have a tooth (right in front) that was cracked when I was young but never had a root canal done on it. The root and whatever else is on the inside is dead and has turned dark. I tried to have it bleached but it wouldn’t take the bleach. Do you think using the activated charcoal would help or just make that tooth look darker compared to the other teeth?

    Reply
    • No, activated charcoal is not going to rectify the damage. The damage like you’re aware of is caused by the necrotic tooth not a stain. But it should be noted that the necrotic tooth that is darker is a result of deadened, or dried up, blood trapped in the capillaries of the tooth. I think that can be flushed out. Activated characoal will not help that out unless its stained with tannin like the article suggest.

      Reply
      • I had an accident and my front tooth was almost lost. They had to do a root canal on it, so the tooth is dead. I have not gotten a cap put on it yet. I was wondering if using AC will turn this dead tooth a diff. color or is it safe to use?

        Reply
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  31. Definitely going to try this.

    We also brush occasionally with Black Walnut Powder, which helps get rid of cavities & also helps with whitening too. However one day my oldest son had dark stains on his two front teeth – maybe from drinking a lot of tea, and the Black Walnut Powder didn’t help to get rid of it, neither did our homemade toothpaste (baking soda, real salt, coconut oil). After looking for quite awhile to try and find a solution, I finally came across someone who suggested Peppermint Essential Oil on a q-tip, dipped in a small amount of banking soda, then rubbed on the teeth. It worked!!!

    Reply
  32. I’m a facebook fan and have been a reader for quite some time, but never really comment. Well, I have to say that I tried this on my teeth today and WOW! It’s just what I needed -such amazing results (my teeth were not yellow at all, but had yellowed some after years with out using bleaching systems). I am overjoyed at finding something simple, inexpensive, non-destructive and natural that truly gives results (it’s the little things, right?…) Thanks for sharing this!

    Reply
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  36. I was wondering if you make your own infant/toddler/children’s toothpaste? I have been using a toothpaste with Xylitol in it and am finding out that Xylitol isnt so great to use daily! Any information you could pass along would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
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  39. I have used this many times. It is the only thing that has gotten some specific dark spots out of my teeth that reappear every once in a while. A few people asked how it tastes. There isn’t really a taste, just the sensation of dry powder in your mouth.

    Reply
  40. I haven’t tried charcoal for tooth whitening, but we use it for upset tummies. It doesn’t taste like much, just feels a bit gross. And it’s safe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding.

    I was thinking that iron WAS one of the few desirable nutrients it will adsorb, though?

    Reply
  41. Interesting! Thank you for sharing.
    I wonder if this can be used to absorb toxic food.

    I personally use therapeutic grade essential oils mixed with salt, olive oil, and clay. I don’t rinse my teeth right away and swish the mixture mixed with my saliva for as long as I can. Therapeutic grade essential oils whiten my teeth and penetrate into the bones, killing germs.

    Reply
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  45. I drink herbal tea every single day and have for over 15 years. I just tried this and I saw a difference RIGHT AWAY! I can’t wait to see how my teeth will look in a week. I used whitening strips when I got married 11 years ago, but they felt so gross on my teeth that I never did it again (although it did work). I’m so happy I found out about this!!

    Reply
  46. Pingback: Tooth Whitening 101: Flash a Gorgeous Smile with These Natural Methods | Wake Up World

  47. Is there absolutly no risk ? Because I’ve always heard that one should not use baking soda too often or else it damages the enamel. So I wonder if it is the same case with charcoal ?

    Reply
  48. Be careful with buying charcoal….there are a lot of variables. You can’t be sure what kind of trees or whatever is being used. Allergic reactions happen…and if the charcoal is not handled correctly….it can have some unwanted things in it.

    I would rather use soda. For intestinal upsets or accidental poisoning…bentonite clay is soooooooooo much better!!!

    Reply
    • Hydrogen peroxide will but in some people it will cause the teeth and gums to become sensitive. And so will baking soda which made my inner area near my lips numb. I stop using both of the above and use Charcoal now.

      Reply
  49. Fluoride is a bit more natural than activated charcoal. Nevertheless, just wanted to warn people that ingesting the charcoal without doctor’s guidance can lead to digestive problems (ie additional hospital bills).

    Reply
    • TOTAL B.S. and ignorance. First off Fluoride is garbage and is harmful and does nothing for your teeth and should be avoided.

      Activated Charcoal is natural safe and will stop most food poisoning in it’s track if taken at the first sign of sickness. It also will prevent or eliminate gas and nausea.

      Just make sure it’s food grade and drink lots of water. There is absolutely no concern at all of using it to brush your teeth unlike Fluoride which is toxic.

      Also Activated Charcoal can help with a detox and also be used externally to remove poison from spider bites.

      Reply
  50. I used activated charcoal for all kinds of things including my teeth. I will say DO NOT USE ANY TOOTHPASTE afterwards or ever.

    I have had only one cavity in my life and that was because the brush could not reach behind the metal ring that where anchoring my braces.

    I have avoided sweet for years but also due to being lactose intolerant also avoided dairy most of my life.

    Now as an adult. I eat good but I do not avoid sugar in fact I often finish off a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Phish food on my own.

    I eat nuts, crackers ( I have notices if I eat too many crackers my tooth often hurt and I back off) apparently its the Phytic Acid in grains that cause tooth decay. I just found that out today so many that’s the issue with the crackers. I do NOT drink sodas. I also have never had fluoride on my teeth and have avoided it my whole life.

    So why are my teeth in good shape?

    I think one of the main reasons is most of my life I have not use toothpaste very often. Tooth paste contain glycerine (even the natural non-fluoride ones) and glycerine coats the teeth and prevents the natural re mineralization that repairs your teeth naturally.

    A co worker that has a absolutely horrible diet and eat garbage and sweets all of the time told me the other day he has perfect dental health. We started talking and he said he thinks it’s because he has never used toothpaste! He uses water!

    I would suggest brushing with AC then follow that with a calcium mag powder supplement to help in mineralization and you could use and ionic tooth brush as well as I have heard that helps the re mineralization.

    Avoid toothpaste and whiteners as they are not good for your teeth. Increase your Vitamin D3 to 1,000 I.U. per 25lbs of body weight per day also. Of course less sugar, and grains are advisable as well.

    Reply
    • After reading about Weston Price, I like to ask strangers about their teeth – if a man seems unusually healthy and strong.
      Of the first several I asked, who said that they had great teeth, two said that their mother made them take cod liver oil every day as a child. I did not expect to hear that at all. One was in his 60′s, the other in his 40′s.
      If you read this, do some surveying of your own – it’s for sure that medical science will not do such a study.

      Reply
  51. Hi Heather,
    OK…….so I tried the activated charcoal teeth whitening method tonight before bed and here is what I found……
    My teeth, gums, tongue, lips, everything turned this awful black color (like one of those awful horror flicks) and I got “REALLY” nervous!
    I continued on with the treatment and brushed well, and rinsed thoroughly after and most of the color did leave my mouth…..except my tongue it still has a coating or residue that I’m hoping will be gone by morning

    Reply
  52. None of us inthe family have had many cavaties and so when my youngest daughter came back from the dentist with a mouth full of cavaties and one that needs a root canal (which we are not doing) I was horrified. I thought that it was her diet ( which contributes hugely) but I found out that she has been using white strips in her mouth. Could someone post an article or two on the dangers of using these whitening strips so that I can forward this information to my 18 year old.

    Reply
  53. So I’m curious. I went and purchased a bottle of activated charcoal (280 mg) by the Solaray company. On the top of the bottle, it has a prop 65 warning that states that “This product contains a chemical known to the state of california to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm.” While I don’t plan on having any more kids, should I be concerned about this?

    Reply
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