Does Charcoal Toothpaste Work?

How can something that at first appears black actually work to whiten your teeth? That’s the paradox of activated charcoal, a natural substance that can be used as a powder or added to toothpastes to help them whiten, brighten, and remove stains from your teeth. Here’s how activated charcoal works.


What is Activated Charcoal?

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You probably think of charcoal as something you use to barbecue or what’s left after a campfire. Charcoal is the porous, carbon residue that remains after burning organic material such as wood or peat. Common charcoal becomes “activated” when it is heated again to very high temperatures.

When charcoal is activated, it becomes even more porous, making it especially good at filtration and trapping toxins in air, water, and even in your body. Refrigerator filters, faucet water filters and filters on range hoods often use activated charcoal to get the job done. It can even be used to clean up pesticide or chemical spills.

Activated charcoal also has a variety of uses in medicine, including as a poison antidote, a treatment for kidney disease, and to improve acne or gut health. It’s at work in many beauty and hygiene products such as facial masks and cleansers, shampoos, and toothpastes to help exfoliate, cleanse, unclog, remove toxins, and whiten.

You’ll find activated charcoal throughout your medicine cabinet and toiletry kit to help clean your face, body, hair, and teeth. In addition to buying products containing activated charcoal, you can purchase it in a powdered form. You can even swallow activated charcoal tablets to help your digestive system.

Despite being used in movies and theater to make teeth look blackened or to portray a zombie or ghoul, activated charcoal is also part of many toothpaste formulas. Instead of making you look ghoulish, activated charcoal in toothpaste is added to help whiten and brighten your smile.


How Does Charcoal Toothpaste Work?

So, here’s the science behind how charcoal toothpaste works. It’s all about negative and positive attraction. When charcoal is “activated,” it becomes negatively charged, making it attract and bond with positively charged ions in other substances. Think about how the opposite ends of a magnet move toward each other and then stick together.

Activated charcoal wants to find positively charged molecules to bond with, such as those in dirt, oil, toxins, poison, or stains. Once these molecules are “stuck” to the activated charcoal, they are pulled from the skin, intestines, or mouth, which is how activated charcoal works to cleanse, whiten, and detoxify.

When activated charcoal is added to a toothpaste, it acts as a mild abrasive and works with other ingredients to help loosen and remove plaque, food debris, and stains. It also helps trap those removed substances so they will leave your mouth when you finish brushing and rinsing. The activated charcoal in a toothpaste is balanced with other ingredients to help clean and protect your teeth and make brushing more enjoyable.


Does Activated Charcoal Whiten Teeth?

Activated charcoal is not a bleaching agent or a specific tooth whitener. However, it does adsorb molecules, such as those in stains that form on your teeth from coffee, tea, red wine, or other foods. It is also a mild abrasive that can help scrub teeth and help remove stains. After using activated charcoal toothpaste for a few weeks, many people find that their teeth are whiter.

Activated charcoal in toothpaste products is safe if swallowed. If you prefer a more natural way to whiten your teeth, look for a toothpaste containing baking soda or activated charcoal (or both!) as whitening ingredients.

ARM & HAMMER™ Essentials Fluoride-Free Toothpaste White + Activated Charcoal is free of artificial sweeteners and dyes, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), preservatives, parabens, peroxide, and fluoride. This toothpaste provides clinically proven whitening benefits and restores shine to your smile.


Trying Activated Charcoal Toothpaste Yourself

Using too much activated charcoal powder or brushing with the powder alone too frequently can be harmful to your tooth enamel, so many dentists recommend against it. But toothpastes made with activated charcoal balance it with other ingredients to help whiten your teeth naturally without overdoing it.

Make ARM & HAMMER™ Essentials Flouride-Free Whitening + Activated Charcoal Toothpaste part of your daily brushing habits. Remember, you only need a pea-sized amount of toothpaste if you’re an adult or teen, and you should brush for two minutes twice per day for optimal oral hygiene.

Learn More About Taking Care of Your Teeth:

Your teeth are with you for a lifetime, so take care of them. Here are some other tips and tricks to help you keep your mouth and teeth healthy, in partnership with your dentist.

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