Activated charcoal tooth whitening?

I guess the newest tooth whitening trend is by using activated charcoal. I was asked about this method recently and wasn’t sure what to advise since it was my first time hearing about this. I immediately started doing some research…

First, I went onto Amazon and ordered some Activated Charcoal. I went with the brand VivaDoria- Healthy Living. It is a virgin carbon, hardwood derived, grounded charcoal that is 100% natural and vegan. The back label of this product reads: “Activated Charcoal is a fine black odorless and tasteless powder made from hardwood that have been exposed to very high temperatures in an airless environment. It is pure carbon specially processed to make it highly adsorbent of particles and gases in the body’s digestive system.” — ok, ok….all natural, great! The Directions are as followed: “Mix 1/2 teaspoon of activated charcoal powder with a glass of water and drink it to detoxify your body from toxic substances. For best results, take it once a day.” –The company clearly hadn’t planned for a tooth whitening movement!

Since I did not want to drink this powder to detoxify my system, I googled the tooth whitening procedure, which told me to:

  • Wet your toothbrush well.
  • Place toothbrush on top of a napkin, piece of toilet paper, or paper towel.
  • Gently twist open you activated charcoal capsule (or container).
  • Carefully empty activated charcoal powder onto toothbrush.
  • Gently brush for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Rinse well with water.
  • Recommend doing once daily, 3 days in a row. For more deeply stained teeth, brush 5 days in a row. Then don’t do again for a few months.

I tried this process….wet the toothbrush-check; placed toothbrush on a napkin-check; gently twisted open my container of powder-check; carefully emptied powder onto toothbrush-wowzers, powder everywhere (I used a spoon the 2nd and 3rd day); gently brushed for 3-5 minutes-paused to take in how crazy my mouth looked; rinsed well with water-rinsed really really well and then rinsed again!

I then looked in the mirror and only saw the slightest difference. I also had charcoal underneath my gums in many areas, so I went through with floss and brushed again with my regular toothpaste. The activated charcoal did have a slight unpleasant taste and was gritty on my teeth. After removing the remaining charcoal my gums were sensitive to brushing and red/tender. But for research sake, I gave it a go and repeated the steps for the 2nd and 3rd day! Here are the results:

You can see the difference as it evened out the color of my teeth and removed the regular ‘blotches’ I have, but any method of bleaching does this! The 2nd picture is pointing to the area of my gums that got really irritated in the process and shows the remaining charcoal particles between my teeth and underneath the gums before I flossed and brushed again with regular toothpaste.

Here are my final thoughts about this way to whiten teeth:

The grittiness of this method makes me nervous as it is abrasive to the enamel. Enamel does not grow back, so if you are continuing to use something abrasive on it, it will wear away which can make teeth very sensitive as well as susceptible to cavities and other issues! The American Dental Association (ADA) monitors different dental products and verifies there safety. This method of tooth whitening is not ADA approved for the very points that I have mentioned. The activated charcoal method uses abrasion to remove surface staining on the enamel whereas approved whitening products actually seep through the enamel into the dentin, which is the inner layer of the tooth. Dentin is what influences the color of the teeth so by whitening the dentin, the enamel appears whiter.

I recommend sticking to an ADA approved whitening method to ensure that you are getting that beautiful white smile safely and leaving the activated charcoal to detoxify your body!

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