Will activated charcoal really whiten your teeth?

Activated charcoal seems to be the latest buzz in the beauty industry. If you are a social media user, you may have seen videos of people brushing their teeth with black paste revealing a white smile afterwards. Health food stores are starting to stock all forms of charcoal powders and tablets now due to this latest craze. But is it an effective and safe way to whiten your teeth?

Activated charcoal been used as a medicine to treat poisoning for over 150 years and has made it to the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines [ref. 1]. It earned a reputation as being safe, easily available and inexpensive medication.

In England during the 19th century charcoal biscuits were popular as a relief from indigestion and flatulence. Now many pharmacies sell them in tablet form for the same purpose.

Activated charcoal is made from common purified charcoal by heating it in the presence of gas. As a result, the charcoal develops internal spaces and pores giving it a large surface area and absorptive properties. These unique properties make activated charcoal (also known as activated carbon) a great multi-purpose substance that can also be used to purify water and absorb odours [ref. 2].

But can it be used to whiten teeth?

Due to its abrasive nature it has a potential to remove some surface staining. However it won’t change the actual colour of the tooth enamel despite some of the manufacturer’s claims that charcoal will “draw out stains from your teeth”. If you have no external staining on your teeth it won’t do anything to improve the colour.

Charcoal products haven’t been approved by the Dental Association and long-term use can cause excessive tooth wear and sensitivity due to the abrasive nature. Once the tooth structure is gone it cannot repair itself so it is best to stick to the tried and tested methods of tooth whitening.

Furthermore accidental inhalation of charcoal powder can cause a serious damage to your lungs, so proceed with caution!

If you would like to improve the shade or remove staining from your teeth in safe an effective manner, don’t hesitate to have a chat to us about it. Here, at Bite Dental Studios, we are more than happy to discuss all available options.


1.WHO List of Essential Medicines. 

2.What’s trending: charcoal.

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