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Activated Charcoal Teeth Whitening: How It Works?


Activated charcoal is an age-old material with various uses. However, it gained recognition at the end of the 20th century and has only grown in popularity since then for teeth whitening.

In 1834, an American physician used activated charcoal to save the life of a patient who accidentally ingested mercury chloride. Since then, many safe and effective uses of the substance have been discovered, including using it to brush your teeth.

But I'm not talking about the charcoal that’s commonly used on the barbeque—although they are both made from the same base materials.

Activated charcoal is a finely milled black powder made from coconut shells, bone char, olive pits, coal, sawdust, or other materials. The charcoal is processed with high heat, which “activates” it. This changes its internal structure, making it more porous than regular charcoal.

It’s also processed in this way to rid it of any additional substances that are harmful to humans. It has a chemical composition that makes it a useful substance in a variety of situations.


Here’s a basic chemistry lesson on activated charcoal.

Activated charcoal has a negative electrical charge, which attracts positively charged molecules. Toxins and gases have a positive charge, causing them to be removed by the charcoal.

You’ve probably heard of nasty free radicals and the damage they can cause in your body. Yep. Charcoal traps those too.

Since it also has a porous texture, this adds to its efficiency in trapping unwanted substances. The best part is that activated charcoal cannot be absorbed by the human body; allowing it to carry toxins out of the body through excretions

Is Activated Charcoal OK for Teeth Whitening?

In the past decade teeth whitening has become a global industry. From dental office bleaching treatments to DIY home remedies, the perfect white smile is well sought after.

Can activated charcoal safely whiten teeth? There’s no formal evidence that activated charcoal whitens teeth.

However, activated charcoal has been FDA approved for many health uses.

Though, observations suggest that using activated charcoal on your teeth is effective in removing plaque and other compounds that stain teeth. Meaning, the chemical properties of activated charcoal is a natural teeth whitener. It doesn’t neutralize the toxins—it binds to them, resulting in whiter teeth.


An Excerpt from:  Dr. Steven Lin (Functional Dentist) website