Activated charcoal is showing up in face masks, ice cream, pill capsules, and more. Research has shown that it has natural properties that allow it to absorb toxins, and it's been claimed to absorb surface stains on teeth to naturally whiten smiles and improve oral health, though the research on this is still inconclusive.
I regularly consume coffee and tea, which can stain teeth, so I decided to give activated charcoal a chance. Activated charcoal can be made from materials rich in carbon, including coconut and nut shells, wood, and bones. I sought out a vegan option in a glass jar that I can reuse, and it was only $7 (R97).
I started by adding a tiny pinch of activated charcoal powder to toothpaste on my toothbrush and brushing once a day for a week. This was a messy process; the powder is very fine and dark.
After one week, I noticed some sensitivity. I normally don't have sensitive teeth, but even drinking a cool glass of water hurt. I did some research and found that brushing with activated charcoal is not the best method - according to the American Dental Association, brushing with abrasive scrubs or powders, like activated charcoal, can lead to teeth that appear more yellow because they wear down the white enamel layer.
I started applying the charcoal directly to my teeth and rubbing it around with my finger. Was it pretty? No. Was it messy? Yes. Did it still work? Yes, although without a brush, it was harder to get the charcoal out from between my teeth. Several swishes of water later, though, and it came loose. We were back in business.
I kept applying the charcoal directly to my teeth with my finger after brushing. It was super messy and it didn't feel as effective as brushing, but it was definitely easier on my tooth enamel.
Still, doing this daily wasn't great, so by the end of the second week, I decided to cut back and apply the charcoal only a few days a week.
It did seem like my teeth were getting at least a little bit whiter, particularly in a couple of spots where years of coffee and tea had done a number on them.
Applying the charcoal just a few times a week was working well for me. My teeth didn't feel as sensitive as they did when I was brushing with the powder, and I had to clean up the aftermath only three or so times. A pinch is more than enough, and if you're considered using activated charcoal powder for your teeth, I recommend getting a tiny spoon to dip into the powder to minimize the messiness.
By the third week, it seemed that after every use my teeth looked a little whiter. Although activated charcoal can't change the color of your teeth the way bleaching can, it does seem to help absorb surface stains.
Until the end of the fourth week, I hadn't compared my first picture to the last. Honestly, I didn't expect a huge difference. I had noticed tiny changes throughout the experiment, but I figured that would be the end of it.
I woke up on the final day of my experiment, brushed my teeth, and gave them a good massage with the charcoal. I took my final picture in the same spot and with the same lighting as the one from the first day and put them next to each other.
As you can see, there's a pretty noticeable difference. I'm proud of the results, and while I probably won't continue scrubbing my teeth with charcoal three or four times a week, I'm going to add it to my Sunday skin-care routine to keep my teeth-whitening progress going.
Overall, using activated charcoal for your teeth is worthwhile. Talk to your dentist first, because it can erode your enamel and cause pain and sensitivity, and I recommend rubbing it on to your teeth with your finger rather than your toothbrush.
But for about R289, I have a glass jar of natural powder that gently whitens my teeth, compared to much more expensive methods that usually involve chemicals that I can't even begin to understand. This process is definitely messy, but when done with caution, it definitely yields results worth bragging about.
Also from Business Insider South Africa: