How to Whiten Your Teeth Using Charcoal
The charcoal that is used for barbecuing is not the same thing as the charcoal that you can use to whiten teeth. Activated charcoal is a fine powder that is made from several types of substances, such as coconut shells, burned wood, sawdust, peat, and olive pits.
It is oxidized under extreme heat to get its black coloring, but it is actually an organic material that is generally healthy. It is also used to treat cholestasis during pregnancy, intestinal gas, and high cholesterol levels. Some shampoos and face masks include it in their ingredients, as well.
Activated charcoal is certainly not a new product, but experts are still finding new uses for it. It has been used since the 1800s to help with the treatment of the accidental ingestion of certain types of poison. Today, it has gained additional popularity as a method to whiten teeth without using more traditional teeth whitening strips or bleaching.
How Does Charcoal Teeth Whitening Work?
Activated charcoal is very adsorbent—rather than absorbent. It is porous and has a wide surface area. Instead of simply soaking up toxins or other substances, it actually binds to them. Once it binds, the toxin and the charcoal can simply be washed away.
When it is applied to your teeth, it binds to the rough portions of the tooth, which are usually surface stains and plaque. However, it generally only works for “new” stains. If your teeth have been yellow for years because of the natural color of your enamel, a charcoal teeth whitening kit might not be the answer. Instead, you may need to opt for another type of whitening method or professional treatment.
While there is some debate about how effective a charcoal teeth whitening kit or toothpaste may be, many people swear by the product—stating that it helps eliminate tooth stains and generally whitens teeth. If you have issues with surface stains and plaque, charcoal teeth whitening can help eliminate those discolored areas very quickly.
Is Using a Charcoal Teeth Whitening Kit Safe?
Activated charcoal comes in a variety of forms, from toothpaste to powder. However, using it as your only form of toothpaste is likely not a good idea. Brushing with activated charcoal will not help you with issues like tooth decay and cavity prevention. Activated charcoal should not be used as a substitution for brushing with traditional toothpaste. Instead, it can be used as a supplement to your normal dental care routine.
Using charcoal treatments too much can damage the enamel on your teeth. Your enamel is the toughest tissue in the human body. It covers and protects your teeth. It has a high percentage of minerals, and it is a naturally light yellow, to gray, to a blue-like white. Although it is tough, over time, enamel can become weak, chip, and crack. Wearing away the enamel on your teeth can increase the occurrence of staining and cavities. It can also lead to tooth sensitivity, as well.
Charcoal can also be tricky to remove, such as if it gets stuck in fillings or gums. In fact, there is some evidence that using too much charcoal on your teeth could actually harm your enamel because it is so abrasive.
Nonetheless, if you want to use a charcoal teeth whitening kit occasionally, the negative side effects are minimal. Brushing very gently or limiting use to only occasionally can help you avoid doing significant damage to your enamel. Keep in mind that harming the enamel can actually lead to more problems with staining.
Swallowing the charcoal powder generally will not be harmful. However, because of activated charcoal’s highly adsorbent properties, it can actually absorb all kinds of things that it comes in contact with, including mediations you are taking, for example. It still requires some time to bond with the medication, so the chances of it affecting your medicine are low, but it is still a good idea to rinse rather than swallow after you use a charcoal whitening kit or toothpaste.
What is the Difference Between Whitening Teeth and Removing Surface Stains?
Activated charcoal is very good at removing surface stains. These stains are caused by:
- Red wine
- Dark-colored foods and drinks
All of these live on the enamel layer, and when you whiten your teeth, whether you are using teeth whitening strips or activated charcoal, these are the stains that you are attacking. Because these products are also the most common cause of staining, treating surface stains to whiten teeth works great for most people.
However, there is a difference between addressing surface stains and dealing with intrinsic stains. An intrinsic stain is a discoloration that comes from within the tooth. It could be caused by things like:
- Trauma to the tooth
- Weak enamel
- Certain types of medicines
- Overuse of fluoride
The underlying color of your tooth generally will not be affected by a home teeth whitening kit. Instead, you may need to see a professional who can provide a treatment that will go below the enamel to treat the tooth itself.
If your teeth are already damaged, using charcoal to help whiten them is probably not a good idea. Talk to your dentist to get specific advice about your unique dental health situation.
How to Whiten Your Teeth Using Charcoal
You can purchase charcoal toothpaste at beauty stores and pharmacies. However, charcoal whitening kits provide an extensive system to use activated charcoal effectively and correctly.
While charcoal brushing can (and often is) effective, the activated charcoal works more effectively when it has time to sit on your teeth. It takes time to attach to the surface stains and plaque, and it can do that better when it sits on your teeth. Charcoal whitening kits often provide helpful mouth guards or other mechanisms to make this process easier and more effective. Some kits are paired with an LED light, which assists the whitening process, as well.
Charcoal teeth whitening strips put the charcoal directly on a strip that you leave on your teeth for a period of time. These whitening strips may come as part of a charcoal whitening kit, or they can be purchased alone, as well.
Getting the Most Out of Your Charcoal Teeth Whitening Kit
Taking advantage of everything in your home teeth whitening kit will be very helpful. Be sure to follow the directions and use your charcoal teeth whitening kit as directed. Enjoy!