Does Activated Charcoal Whiten Teeth?

You have likely seen or heard the buzz surrounding activated charcoal in numerous beauty products. But tooth whitening? Several manufacturers have hopped on the bandwagon utilizing activated charcoal in toothpaste claiming amazing whitening potential. So I have two questions; Does Activated Charcoal Whiten Teeth? Is it safe? We did the research and put it to the test. Dr. Balice was kind enough to be our guinea pig.



Using charcoal in toothpaste may be a current trend but it isn’t original. Back in the 19th century individuals used charcoal powder in homemade toothpaste. Charcoal has been used medicinally for many years. It’s primary purpose was to treat individuals who had been poisoned or overdosed. It would absorb some of the toxins. Charcoal is made from substances such as coal or wood. It becomes activated charcoal when high temperatures are combined with a gas or activating agent to expand its surface area. This turns it into a porous material that draws out impurities.


Since charcoal is used to treat overdose and toxicity it is relatively safe to ingest. The small quantities that one might swallow when brushing may do no harm, at least there isn’t research indicating such so far. The ADA does however, warn against the abrasive qualities.  The ADA also has not approved any activated charcoal products to date.

The more abrasive a toothpaste is, the more harmful it is to the enamel and the more damage it can cause to the enamel and exposed root surfaces. This is why we usually recommend avoiding whitening toothpastes.


So, does it work? Perhaps, but likely to a limited extent. Charcoal may bind to stain on the surfaces of the tooth. Stains that may respond to charcoal include coffee, tea, red wine, dark juices. This is where the effectiveness theoretically stops. The deeper non superficial stain in teeth shouldn’t be reached. This is where the peroxide based whitening materials are superior. They remove both.

Our Experiment

Here we have our beloved Dr. Balice before using any whitening agent. We used a standard shade guide in most dental offices known as the Vita Shade Guide. Dr. Joe began at an A3.

We selected the Cali White Activated Charcoal and Coconut Oil Toothpaste from Amazon for $10.99. It is a best seller and has stellar reviews.

Check out our next blog post to see Dr. Balice’s results and find out, does activated charcoal whiten teeth?


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