Why do we find charcoal in so many natural tooth products?
First, some believe that charcoal can white your teeth. Without bleach or other potentially toxic chemicals. (But I must point out no scientific studies have been done to confirm this.)
Also, activated charcoal (the kind sold in health food stores) is thought to be an excellent way to remove toxins, because it binds with them. (Which is why it’s often proposed as a tooth whitener and plaque fighter.)
The theory is that harmful substances bind themselves to all the little nooks and crannies (too small to see with the naked eye) found in charcoal. (So it can also freshen your breath.)
I first bought activated charcoal when my children were little. I wanted to keep it on hand in case of accidental poisonings, or other emergencies.
Activated charcoal is considered so good at binding with certain poisons that it’s found in all emergency rooms. (However, in case of poisoning, please call your local Poison Control Center or, if need be, head straight to the Emergency Room. Don’t just use activated charcoal and assume all will be well.)
Activated Charcoal for Your Teeth
(This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase anything, I receive a referral fee, at no extra cost to you.)
Because activated charcoal has so many uses, I think it’s something that should be in everyone’s natural medicine cabinet. (It’s super cheap and lasts virtually forever.)
Some people take a little activated charcoal when they have food poisoning. I’ve never charcoal for food poisoning because I use a homeopathic remedy for nausea and vomiting that works like a charm.
In the past, I’ve used activated charcoal to make all natural DIY mascara. It works pretty well, although you have to play around a bit with the ingredients to get it how you like it.
But, anyway, this is a post about how to use activated charcoal to freshen your breath and whiten your teeth. (Check with your dentist thought to get his or her thoughts on activated charcoal. Since it’s abrasive it must be used very carefully, and in moderation. Let your dentist be the one to decide if and how often you should whiten your teeth with charcoal, or if you should use a toothpaste containing charcoal.)
I liked the very good advice by a functional dentist with an online presence. He noted that charcoal used incorrectly could potentially harm your tooth enamel. He suggested smearing it on your teeth instead of using it to brush with. (You can find a link to Dr. Steven Lin’s article at the end of this post.)
Also, there’s no hard and fast scientific evidence that charcoal can whiten your teeth. Until such research is done, this falls in the realm of home remedies and folk medicine.
My own teeth seemed brighter after using charcoal. But I realize this is just an anecdotal report. Still even without the studies, I was happy with the results. (Even so I would only do this occasionally, and the next time it will be just smearing it on my teeth instead of brushing.)
Using charcoal to whiten your teeth is a way to potentially avoid chemical teeth whiteners made with bleach. These products are on the market and widely used. But it doesn’t necessary mean they’re safe.
We do have studies on chemical tooth whitening products.
One animal study I found is alarming. It was published in the Journal of Dental Research. It found that female rats given oral doses of a “commercial tooth whitener” that contained the bleaching agent carbamide peroxide suffered a horrible fate.
Body temperatures plunged, along with respiration. Three of the 22 study subjects died, and many of the rest had gastric distress.
Pound for pound, the amount ingested by the rats is far more than typical human use. But the findings are still cause for concern.
The authors of the study concluded, “The data indicate that ingestion of large doses of commercial preparations of tooth whiteners may be acutely toxic, sometimes fatal, to female laboratory rats.”
Benefits of Using Charcoal On Your Teeth
So one big benefit of using charcoal instead of commercial tooth whitening solutions is avoiding carbamide peroxide, especially given its known toxicity in animals.
Instead, you can occasionally and gently smear your teeth with activated charcoal. (As always check with your dentist.)
The first time I put it straight on my toothbrush, and used it like tooth powder. (Going forward I will just smear it on my teeth.)
If you can’t find activated charcoal locally at your health food store it’s available online. I buy the capsules, which you can see below, and open them as needed.
For More Reading
Acute Toxicological Effects of Ingested Tooth Whiteners in Female Rats
Activated Charcoal Teeth Whitening: Advice from a Dentist