• Dr. Rishika Sahay

Activated Charcoal for Teeth Whitening

One treatment at the highest demand right now in dentistry is everything regarding esthetics. Everyone wants that white beautiful smile. And one element which is getting so viral for the same purpose is ACTIVATED CHARCOAL. I’m sure you must have seen people rubbing that black powder/ paste over their teeth on pictures and videos all over the internet.


If you are thinking that you can rub any charcoal powder on your teeth, you’re highly mistaken. Activated charcoal treatment comes from ancient medicine where the coal was burnt over a flame which made the pores inside it larger.

These pores make the charcoal more absorbent and allow it to trap all the compounds in its way.

This treatment is used to reduce cholesterol, poison, intestinal gas, facial dirt (charcoal face masks), teeth stains (toothpaste/ toothpowder), etc.


As charcoal is proven to trap all the compounds in its path when used, it does work on teeth by removing the external stains on the tooth surface. It does provide some amount of whitening by cleaning the teeth externally. However, stains inside the tooth cannot be removed by activated charcoal.

So, summing everything up, it does provide some level of whitening, but not as effective as in-office bleaching.


The biggest drawback of using activated charcoal on your teeth is that it is an abrasive and causes erosion on the enamel surface. That’s one of the reasons why it is not approved by the American Dental Association.

  1. Most of the formulations with charcoal lack Fluoride in it. So, if you are using charcoal toothpaste instead of your conventional toothpaste, it might increase the chances of tooth decay. That’s the reason it is always recommended as an adjunct to normal dental practices and not as a replacement to any.

  2. The advertisements on the internet are exaggerated. Activated charcoal is not going to give you extremely white smiles as claimed by the companies, it just restores the normal color of your tooth to some extent.

  3. Many of the formulations with activated charcoal also have Bentonite Clay which contains lead and is not recommended by The US Food and Drug Association.

  4. It does not help deeply stained or naturally yellow teeth. As it only removes the extrinsic stains and the key ingredient is not in contact with the teeth for enough amount of time.

  5. In a few cases, the activated charcoal can also get caught in your fillings or gums and can irritate the normal structures in the mouth.


Here’s how it should be used in order to get maximum benefits with least side effects

  1. It should always be used as an adjunct to normal oral hygiene practices and not as a replacement to any.

  2. Do not use the charcoal powder/paste with a toothbrush.

  3. Take some product on your finger and dab it into your teeth. DO NOT RUB, DAB IT. And leave it in place for 3 minutes after which you can rinse your mouth with water.

  4. You can do it anytime in the day, preferably after brushing your teeth.

Also, always discuss this with your Dentist before using any such product on your teeth. Your dentist is the best person who can suggest to you if you need whitening treatment or not, and if you actually need it, out of all the products in the market, which one will be best suited for your teeth. Because as I always say, healthier teeth always shine brighter. And you cannot risk the health of your teeth just for some extra shine which you may not even require in the first place.

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