ho doesn’t want beautiful pearly whites? There’s something about white teeth that brightens up any smile. In my early 20’s I was a nanny to the children of a dentist and was gifted a tooth whitening kit, complete with plastic trays molded to fit my teeth. For years I donned a bright white smile and loved it…
Once pregnant, I opted not to use the harsh whitening gel as I didn’t want to absorb any harmful chemicals…but I still wanted those pearly whites (and having 3 kids in 3 years + a move across the country = lots of coffee consumption and dingy teeth).
Enter “Activated Charcoal“. Charcoal, you ask? Yes, charcoal! Used for centuries as a treatment to bind to and remove ingested poisons, charcoal is highly absorbent and a very useful substance to keep on hand in case of food poisoning. Charcoal is not absorbed by the body, it works by adhering to chemicals and toxins (or poisons) carrying them through our GI tract and expelling them from our system.
The benefits of charcoal for tooth and gum health are two-fold:
- Brushing with charcoal pulls toxins and bacteria out of your mouth as it binds to the charcoal and is then spit down the drain. This can benefit those working to reverse cavities and/or gingivitis.
- Allowing the charcoal to sit on the surface of your teeth for 3-5 minutes whitens and brightens the tooth’s enamel, giving your smile an overall whiter appearance.
Regardless of its whitening properties, brushing with activated charcoal can be a healthy addition to your normal brushing routine.
You can buy activated charcoal in powder or capsule form. The powder is handy if being used frequently, but do use caution as it can stain tile and sink grout if spilled. I opt for the capsules to avoid possible spills from curious children (or my clumsy self), they’re fantastic for travel as they’re essentially a “single serve” size. I also find it helpful to have an extra toothbrush designated just for charcoal use.
To whiten teeth: Wet toothbrush and dip into charcoal (or carefully empty capsule onto wet bristles). Gently brush all surfaces of your teeth until covered and black. Try to keep your lips off of your teeth as much as possible. Allow charcoal to sit for 3-5 minutes. It’s best to do this when you won’t need to talk, if your lips wipe off any charcoal simply brush on a little more to cover.
Spit contents of mouth into sink (being careful not to splatter!), rinse your toothbrush and continue to brush until all charcoal is removed from your mouth. Don’t neglect your gums, tongue, roof of mouth and cheeks as bacteria loves to hide out in all corners of your mouth. I like to switch to my normal toothbrush once the majority of the charcoal is removed, I find this helps speed up the process a bit.
Repeat 2-3 times a week until desired whiteness is obtained. It’s important not to press too hard while brushing as charcoal can feel abrasive to sensitive gums and cause soreness. If this happens, wait a week and try again, brushing much softer (remember, it’s not friction that whitens, it’s the contact of the charcoal to the surface of the teeth, so be very gentle).
To freshen breath/eliminate bacteria: Wet toothbrush and dip into charcoal (or carefully empty capsule onto wet bristles). Gently brush all surfaces of your teeth for 30-60 seconds, then brush all surfaces of your mouth for 30-60 seconds. Carefully spit contents of mouth into sink so it doesn’t splatter, wet your toothbrush and continue to brush until all charcoal is removed from your mouth.
Do this daily as part of a healthy hygienic routine.
To save time and maintain those pearly whites, I simply add a small amount of activated charcoal on top of my homemade toothpaste and brush as normal every day.
Below is a picture of me brushing with the full capsule amount. Yes, the black is shocking. No, it will not stain your teeth, gums, lips or skin…scouts honor! (Ok, I was never a girl scout…but I promise it won’t stain!)
For another natural tooth whitening remedy check out this post on oil pulling.