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Charcoal for Teeth Whitening

I read an article which talked about whitening your teeth with charcoal. I know you can’t believe everything you read so I wanted to get a dentist’s take on it. Will that work? If so, is there anything I need to know to make it more effective?


Dear Corinne,


You are a wise woman to verify the things you read. Too many people take anything they read or hear on the news at face value. I’m very glad to know there are people like you around. As to your question, I first want to qualify that when they talk about charcoal for whitening teeth, they aren’t referring to the type of charcoal you use to grill your food. Instead, they’re talking about activated charcoal.

The popularity of DIY teeth whitening is growing, especially using charcoal. Let me go over the most common claims about the method and tell you which are true and which are false.

Claims about Charcoal for Teeth Whitening

It’s Absorbant and Non-Toxic: TRUE

It is non-toxic and safe to ingest. It’s also natural and has some medicinal uses because of its absorbancy. A growing number of people use it as a detoxifier. Because of that, many patients think it’s ideal for whitening their teeth. That leads us to the next claim.

It’s Safe to Use on Teeth: FALSE

Everything has an abrasiveness level. Unfortunately, the abrasiveness of charcoal is too hard to use on teeth. It will scratch your enamel, leaving little grooves where your teeth will begin to pick up stains much more easily. This has the opposite effect of what you’re hoping for your teeth.

It Works: TRUE & FALSE

It can get rid of some stains while it works its abrasiveness. It is also absorbent and will soak up some surface stains, but toothpaste and a toothbrush can get rid of those same stains. The biggest problem with the charcoal is the damage it does to your enamel. Once the enamel’s gone, that’s it. It doesn’t come back. Your teeth will do nothing but constantly pick up stains.

Your Best Option for Teeth Whitening

In all honesty, the best option you have for effective tooth bleaching is to do it with a dentist. The peroxide gel the dentist uses is also natural with the added benefit of it being perfectly safe for your teeth.

While with some cosmetic procedures, such as a smile makeover with porcelain veneers, you’d need to have an expert cosmetic dentist, with teeth whitening you can just use your regular family dentist.

This blog is brought to you by Naperville Dentist Dr. David Newkirk.