Part III: Activated Charcoal Oral Health

Activated Charcoal: An All Natural Teeth Whitener

Much has been made of activated charcoal’s ability to brighten and whiten those pearly whites. And rightfully so -  it’s an all-natural solution in an otherwise chemical-laden industry.

It’s becoming extremely common for natural beauty enthusiasts to skip the bleach and use activated charcoal to whiten teeth.

But does it work?

That’s what you want to know – does activated charcoal actually whiten your teeth. The short answer is yes, it works.

How does it work and is it safe?

Activated Charcoal binds to tannins and many compounds that contain Chromogens. 

Why are Tannins and Chromogens important?

Without getting too Bill Nye on you, Tannins are plant based compounds that make it easier for stains to stick to your teeth. Chromogens do the actual staining. The third important factor is acid, which weakens your enamel, making your teeth more susceptible to staining.

For example: coffee is acidic, contains tannins and chromogens which spells trouble if you want white teeth.

Other foods such as wine, berries and tea are also culprits when it comes to staining our teeth.

Here is my anecdotal evidence. I’ve never used whitening strips and I drink black coffee, usually two cups per day (I know, I know – at least one cup too many!)

Naturally, my teeth have been yellowing over time. They’re not super model white and probably never will be.

I’ve been brushing with Tuxedo, our activated charcoal teeth whitening product for four months, once daily in the shower. My teeth have gotten whiter, despite the fact that I continue to drink black coffee, the occasional glass of wine….and did I mention blueberries are my favorite thing to eat?

And I'm not the only one; you can read Crunch Betty's account here.

We’ve received dozens of emails with this type of reaction. Even more if you include the countless 5 star reviews on Amazon for our teeth-whitening product.

Here are what some customers had to say:

"When I was younger I used many different chemical teeth whiteners which led to my teeth becoming extremely sensitive. I began using sensitive toothpaste I actually noticed Decay happening on my teeth so I decided to switch to an all natural route upon looking for new items to purchase I came across this whitener so I decided to give it a try and I just want to say that I love this whitener. Since using this right now I have noticed my teeth are no longer as sensitive as they were. Now as with any natural product the results aren't as immediate as chemical. So with continued use overtime I have noticed whitening taking place. I love this product and will continue to use it and purchase it again. I recommend it to everybody. Thank you" - Amy

"Already one shade brighter" - Mike

"Great product. Visibly whiter teeth in just 5 days. I can hardly wait to see what happens in 30 days.I would highly suggest you try it for yourself. You won't be sorry." - Cathy

So the answer is yes, brushing with activated charcoal helps to whiten teeth by naturally removing existing stains over time.

Brushing your teeth with black powder may not be for everyone and it doesn’t work as well as chemical teeth whitening strips, but it is an all-natural solution to gently whitening your teeth over time AND charcoal tooth powders fight bacteria in the mouth.

Does activated charcoal work as well as common teeth whitening products on the market?

Activated charcoal can do an incredible job of lifting and removing surface stains. It doesn’t remove deeper stains and frankly nothing will except harmful chemical products.

Think about that for a second. How did that even become a solution? Bleaching your teeth.

The most common complaint after using chemical products to whiten is increased sensitivity and according to one study, 2/3 of patients experienced some level of tooth sensitivity after using hydrogen peroxide.

The same study noted that most patients’ sensitivity was gone within a few days, but some patients found the increased level of sensitivity to be permanent.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve experienced tooth sensitivity and it’s extremely uncomfortable.  

Other problems that have been observed from using hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening products include:

  • Tooth surface roughening and softening
  • Increased potential for demineralization
  • Increased risk of tooth fracture
  • Degradation of dental restorations
  • Unacceptable color change of dental restorations

I’m not suggesting that traditional teeth whitening products will harm your oral health. Frankly, I have no idea - I just know that when I think about it, the product seems counter-intuitive and the cons vastly outweight the pros.

Before & After Teeth Whitening Pictures Using Activated Charcoal

A lot of these images are more convincing on the owners blog as they are bigger. I've linked to each post where you can find the pictures, often times there are multiple images over multiple days.

*This is from our top review on Amazon for Tuxedo 

*Another Tuxedo review on Amazon. She mentions this is after one use.

Photo Credit: The Work Out Mama. She takes pictures for 7 days you can literally see the change day to day

Photo Credit: Laurenda Marie Ren says she uses charcoal every second day.

Photo Credit: Normalizing Parenthood This was after one five minute application

Photo Credit: Saved By Grace Don't be thrown off, the top is the after, the bottom si before and the middle. Well thats activated charcoal.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Does Activated Charcoal Reduce Tooth Sensitivity?

Personally, since I started brushing with our activated charcoal tooth powder, I’ve noticed that my sensitive tooth isn’t an issue anymore. We’ve had customers tell us the exact same thing.

Again, this is anecdotal evidence. There are no studies which can back up that claim. I’m just relaying what I’ve personally experienced and customer feedback.

"Ok I have sensitive gums and this makes them feel great!! Will make your teeth white but will take a couple of weeks but this is a safe easy and amazing for sensitive gums."

"I wish I could give this marvelous product 10+ stars! I suffer from Sjogren's disease, resulting in low to no saliva production, which means decay can be rampant and my oral tissues always extremely sensitive and irritated I have tried other brands of natural toothpastes in various forms, and my mouth remained painful. Tuxedo not only cleans your teeth thoroughly, but it truly does whiten. I'm a coffee-holic, but I've still seen a difference when starting Tuxedo. Kudos to Rocky Mountain Essentials for creating the best tooth cleaner/polisher/whitener with no after effects of burning, stinging, or irritated oral mucosa. Thanks for making a terrific product! I would highly recommend!" 

With that said, some customers have noted had issues with gum sensitivity. Using an activated charcoal tooth powder works for most people, but not everyone!

Activated charcoal falls somewhere in the middle of the RDA (relative dentin abrasivity) scale. The RDA scale is used to measure how abrasive different types of toothpastes are. The recommended limit from the FDA is 200.

We’re currently having our product tested though similar charcoal teeth whitening products range from 70-90 RDA.

The majority of teeth whitening toothpastes are over 100 on that scale.

Activated charcoal shouldn’t bother your gums – if it does, it’s probably best to stop using it all together.

Does Activated Charcoal Strip Away Enamel or Restore Enamel?

This is another common question we frequently get. There is no way to restore enamel. It doesn’t have cells to regenerate itself so once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Enamel is damaged or stripped away from a number of factors including highly acidic foods, diet, acid reflux, genetics and brushing too hard.
It’s estimated that 10-20 percent of population have damaged their enamel from brushing too aggressively. This isn’t a result of activated charcoal being very high on the RDA index (or any toothpaste for that matter). It’s simply a result of over aggressive brushing.

I use a soft bristle toothbrush when brushing to minimize the wear and tear on my enamel. I also try and remember to start on different teeth because the initial brushing is where most of the stripping happens.

Activated Charcoal for Bad Breath and Gum Disease

Another question we get asked is, “Does Activated Charcoal will help with bad breath?”

Good oral hygiene will help with bad breath whether that’s toothpaste or tooth powder.

Tuxedo, our teeth whitening activated charcoal product, is mint flavored, like many toothpastes. But you can only mask so much with mint whether it’s toothpaste, gum or otherwise.

Ultimately bad breath is usually a result of a poor diet, dehydration (dry mouth) or poor dental hygiene. Of course there are other contributing factors but the type of toothpaste you’re using isn’t going to solve the problem alone. 

Just as it’s true that good oral hygiene will help prevent bad breath, good oral hygiene helps to prevent gum disease.  Improving your diet along with regular brushing and flossing is usually enough to prevent or cure gum disease.

Activated Charcoal for Teeth Whitening: Instructions

Another question we frequently receive is, “How long will it take to work?” Personally, it took about a month of using Tuxedo to notice an improvement.  That equated to approximately half the jar; some days I would use it twice, other days I would only use it once.

I use it instead of toothpaste in the morning while in the shower. I highly recommend using it while you’re in the shower because it’s black and messy.

You can also use it with your toothpaste. Simply dip a moist toothbrush (with or without toothpaste) into Tuxedo.

Brush as you normally would.

Rinse with water.

I recently went to the dentist and my hygienist was happy with my overall oral health. I needed to floss more (who doesn’t?) but aside from that everything looked good.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been using Tuxedo instead of toothpaste in the morning for about four months.