Activated charcoal, also called activated carbon, is the best way to whiten teeth naturally without using conventional tooth whitening trays, gels, and strips that contain toxic chemicals that can damage tooth enamel over time and harm delicate gum tissue. Even professional tooth whitening at the dentist is not a good idea for those concerned with avoiding toxin exposure and preserving their long term oral health.
It may seem odd to use black powder to whiten teeth, but it really does work.
Activated charcoal is so effective because it aggressively absorbs tannins, the compounds found in coffee, tea, tobacco, herbal teas, blueberries, wine, spices, and other foods that stain teeth. It does not, however, lock onto minerals like calcium in our teeth which is why it won’t harm tooth enamel even if used every single day.
Even better, activated charcoal balances the pH of the mouth which discourages the growth of pathogens and the formation of cavities and helps preserve the health of the gum tissue. In Korea, activated charcoal is even added to toothpaste and tooth powder!
How is Activated Charcoal Made?
Processing charcoal with oxygen and either calcium chloride or zinc chloride produces activated charcoal.
It was used medicinally by both Hippocrates and the ancient Egyptians, and it is still the poison remedy of choice in hospital emergency rooms.
I first became acquainted with the power of activated charcoal to remove toxins from the digestive tract many years ago when my German Shepherd ate some poisonous mushrooms in our front yard, and the vet gave her activated charcoal as the remedy to stop her hallucinations.
Some folks like to take capsules of activated charcoal when traveling or after eating out at establishments which serve food with questionable ingredients, but I don’t recommend it for this purpose unless there is actual food poisoning involved because activated charcoal removes nutrients from the digestive tract as well as toxins.
Activated Charcoal Makes a Mess
The one drawback with using activated charcoal to whiten teeth is that the black powder can really make a mess!
Just a little bit of activated charcoal spilled in the bathroom sink or on the floor requires a thorough cleanup lest the very fine black powder be tracked onto carpets or stain socks and slippers. Even if none is spilled, spitting it and rinsing after a few minutes of holding it in your mouth to whiten teeth makes a mess in the sink which requires cleaning afterwards.
And, you must make sure you aren’t wearing any good clothes that will be stained when using activated charcoal as even the most careful application will still get some on your shirt or blouse. In other words, don’t try to whiten your teeth quickly before heading out the door for dinner in your evening attire!
Not exactly the convenience of slap on and go tooth whitening strips!
So how to use activated charcoal regularly without the inconvenience of a mess afterward which can sometimes serve to discourage its use?
The trick is to use activated charcoal while you shower instead of at the bathroom sink
Here’s what to do:
- Before getting into the shower, carefully open one capsule of activated charcoal and empty it into your mouth. Carefully wrap the empty capsule in a bit of tissue and put in the trash. Even better, reclose the empty capsule before wrapping in the tissue. Don’t just toss the empty capsule in the garbage as even a teeny weeny bit of the powder will stain the trash bin.
- Keep a special toothbrush that you use only with activated charcoal in the shower. Grab it as you step into the shower and lightly brush the powder around your teeth so that they are thoroughly covered.
- Run the shower water through the bathtub faucet for a minute and thoroughly rinse the blackened toothbrush. Set it aside.
- Turn on the shower and bath normally. The average shower lasts for 8 minutes, and this is an ideal amount of time to keep the activated charcoal in your mouth as you wash and condition your hair, etc. You can swish around the activated charcoal in your mouth if you want to during this time, but this is not necessary to produce good results.
- When you are finished with your shower, spit out the activated charcoal directly into the tub drain before turning off the water. Then, open your mouth and rinse directly with water pouring out from the shower head. Rinse and spit out the water as many times as necessary to clear the powder completely from your mouth. Use the shower head to quickly clear away any black powder residue that may still be present around the shower stall.
- Next, use your regular toothbrush to brush your teeth as usual … either while still in the shower or at the bathroom sink after you get out of the shower and towel dry.
The result of doing this every day for about a week? Naturally white, but not blindingly white (which looks soooo unnatural), teeth that you can feel confident knowing that you haven’t damaged your oral health in pursuit of an unsustainable and toxic beauty routine.
Now, the only trick is to find a way to remember to put the activated charcoal into your mouth before stepping in the shower!
*Wondering what toothbrush I’m holding in the picture? Our family uses Bass toothbrushes and here’s why they are so much more effective than store toothbrushes for cleaning teeth, removing plaque, and preventing tartar.
TIP: Since this post was originally written, activated charcoal toothpaste has now become available in the United States. I’ve tried it, and it is an awesome option! This is the brand I feel most confident recommending.
Sarah Pope has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2002. Her work is dedicated to helping families effectively incorporate the principles of ancestral diets within the modern household. She is a sought after lecturer around the world for conferences, summits, and podcasts.
Her work has been covered by major media including USA Today, ABC, NBC, and many others.