Many of our favorite
addictions things, like coffee, tea, and wine, stain teeth and turn them yellow. This is very bothersome to many of us–so bothersome in fact, that Americans spend over a billion dollars a year on over-the-counter teeth whitening products. But these products (white strips, special toothpastes, whitening trays), contain a long list of harmful chemicals and are known to harm tooth enamel and gums over time.
So what to do?
Enter activated charcoal, a jet-black powder made of burned stuff that’s been purified and reduced to pure carbon. The carbon is “activated” by being processed with gases that render it incredibly porous–and give it a large surface area for adsorption (adhering to things).
Activated charcoal has been used for ages as a poison remedy and is still a staple in emergency rooms for treating poisoning and overdoses, because it binds to contaminants (well, and nutrients, too) and passes them through your body without being absorbed. (So it’s also a great remedy for food poisoning!)
Just like it removes toxins from the digestive tract, activated charcoal whitens teeth by adsorbing the tannins (compounds in coffee, tea, etc.) that stain them. The charcoal does not interact with tooth enamel, so is safe to use regularly. And it’s also great because it balances the pH in your mouth, which helps protect against pathogens that cause gum and tooth decay.
Most health food stores carry activated charcoal, or you can easily purchase it online here (note: a 1-pound bag will last you the rest of your life).
How to whiten teeth with activated charcoal:
1. First and foremost, be very careful with it. Although the powder will easily wash off of non-porous surfaces like your sink and tile, it stains porous surfaces like grout and clothing. It’s a powder so it poofs everywhere. Before using, change out of your favorite clothes and move things you don’t want to risk staining.
2. Wet your toothbrush and dip it in a small dish of charcoal. You’ll get a feel for how much your mouth can handle, but start slow. Definitely use less charcoal than you would toothpaste.
3. Carefully put the toothbrush in your mouth and close your lips tightly around it (don’t want any spraying!).
4. Brush your teeth gently for 2ish minutes.
5. Spit (carefully!) and rinse well. Also clean up the sink, which will inevitably turn black.
For the first week or two you can brush with activated charcoal every other night (some sources say it’s fine to do daily…but might wanna play it safe at first). You should see results within the first couple weeks. After that, especially if you’re a coffee or tea drinker, once a week or every other week should be good for upkeep.
Here’s what it looks like before, during, and after:
And, look, more people recommend this: