Activated charcoal has been used since ancient India and Egypt as a purifier, due to its remarkable ability to trap and bind contaminants. Today it is used across a vast number of applications from pharmaceutical processing to air and water filtration. In the health industry, food grade activated charcoal is used to treat poisonings, relieve intestinal gas, and improve mild skin conditions. Recently, it has begun to be used for teeth whitening. Here is what you should know about charcoal whitening.
What Is Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal begins its life as organic material with a high naturally occurring level of carbon, such as peat, wood, or coconut husks. The material is heated slowly in a low-oxygen environment to draw out water and impurities. The resulting char is then activated through a variety of physical and chemical process to create a submicroscopic porous network and vastly increase its surface area.
Activated charcoal works through a process known as adsorption. Its carbon molecules are naturally attracted to a wide range of organic and inorganic compounds, removing them and trapping them along the charcoal’s surface, creating a sort of film. Activated charcoal’s immense surface area and porous network allow these compounds to easily find all available bonding points.
How to Whiten Your Teeth with Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal works well against a stunning collection of impurities, including the food byproducts and bacteria that cause surface stains on the teeth. Here is how to use it:
Choose Food Grade Activated Charcoal: Activated charcoal is used for many purposes, including treating industrial wastewater. Consequently, not all of it is considered safe for human consumption. Make sure that you select only activated charcoal that is labeled food grade. Never use unlabeled activated charcoal in your mouth.
Make a Paste: You can find food grade activated charcoal in health food stores, as well as some supermarkets and drugstores. It may be sold as a powder, or in tablet or capsule form. Open a capsule, grind up a tablet, or measure out 1-2 teaspoons of powder. Mix with just enough water to make a paste.
Apply Carefully: Since activated charcoal is highly abrasive, it could scratch your teeth if you scrub with it. Instead, use your fingers or a very soft toothbrush to gently press the paste onto your teeth without rubbing. Let it sit for 2 to 3 minutes, and then spit it out.
Rinse Thoroughly: Activated charcoal is dark black in color. Though it will whiten your teeth, it can stain your tongue and lips. Thoroughly rinse your mouth with cool water until all traces are gone.
Should I Try Charcoal Whitening?
Food grade activated charcoal consumption is considered safe for people in reasonable health who are not taking medications that could interact with it. Since charcoal whitening involves spitting out the activated charcoal rather than swallowing it, trying this whitening method is unlikely to cause any harm.
However, it is important to note that there is not a lot of research behind the charcoal whitening trend. Anecdotal evidence claims that it works, but results could vary. In addition, charcoal whitening can only combat surface stains and mild yellowing. It does not penetrate deeply enough to have dramatic effects, especially if you have deep stains or severe yellowing.
We recommend professional teeth whitening, either in-office or with take-home trays. You will get a more consistent, more dramatic result without the risk of scratching or scraping your teeth.
Ready to Get Started?
If you are ready to whiten your teeth with a caring and trusted professional, contact Jennifer Stachel Orthodontics today at (212) 877-7177.