How Does Charcoal Whiten Teeth Safely?

By Maureen Wise in Natural Products

If you're like me, you're wondering why putting charcoal in any close proximity to your mouth would be a good idea. Charcoal toothpaste might seem like an unfounded fad at first, but it turns out that charcoal has been used for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years in medicine because of its absorption and decolorizing properties.

Does charcoal whiten teeth? As counterintuitive as it may sound, it does!

Activated Charcoal

If you browse Instagram, you'll find pictures of foods that seem impossibly black: black ice cream, black coffee, black breads, and even black juices. These foods have been dyed with activated charcoal.

To clarify, activated charcoal—the ingredient most commonly found in oral care products containing charcoal—is not the same sort of charcoal you burn on your grill for portobello steaks. However, it's made from the same organic materials, namely wood, coconut shells, olive pits, coal, sawdust, and peat.

Activated charcoal is finely ground into a powder and then processed with very high heat, changing its internal structure. This makes it more porous and gives it a higher surface area than cooking charcoal. These unique properties have made charcoal useful for a variety of purposes throughout history, with oral care emerging as one of the latest applications.

Activated charcoal latte drink

Absorption Properties

Activated charcoal has been used to combat poisons for nearly two hundred years. In the 1700s, scientists knew that activated charcoal had superior absorption properties, but didn't know how to apply that knowledge. In the 1800s, cases emerged where doctors saved patients' lives by administering charcoal to absorb poisonous substances they'd ingested, according to a report in The Western Journal of Medicine.

Now, you can find activated charcoal at the pharmacy in case of accidental poisoning, reports the Mayo Clinic. It's used in emergency rooms to treat drug overdoses because it binds to the poisonous substances in the stomach and carries them safely through the digestive system.

Whitening Properties

The sugar industry has been using activated charcoal to decolor their product since 1794, explains the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Using charcoal to decolorize (or whiten), sugar and vinegar is still standard practice today. Additionally, charcoal acts as an effective filter and is used widely for water purification, according to the USDA.

The unique chemical structure of activated charcoal gives it powerful absorption, bleaching, and purification abilities. It has proven to be effective in processes throughout history, and incorporating a safe product containing charcoal in your oral care routine could allow you to reap the benefits.

Tom's of Maine Activated Charcoal Toothpaste

How Does Activated Charcoal Whiten Teeth?

Charcoal's absorption capabilities allow it to remove stains on the teeth. However, some people are concerned about charcoal's potential abrasive effects on enamel. The American Dental Association rates the abrasiveness of toothpastes against a standardized scale called relative dental abrasivity (RDA). Toothpastes will an RDA of 250 or less are considered safe and effective.

Don't be afraid of the dark! Tom's of Maine's Activated Charcoal Toothpaste's formula is the gentlest charcoal toothpaste among leading natural brands based on RDA testing. It is also safe for enamel and everyday use. Tom's of Maine's natural charcoal toothpaste gently whitens teeth by removing surface stains with plant-based activated charcoal.

Using products with naturally derived ingredients like charcoal allows you to take advantage of the Earth's powerful substances. Choose a brand you trust to ensure your personal care products are safe for you and your family and give you the results you want.

Have you ever used activated charcoal around the house or in a personal care product? Tell us about it on Twitter!

Image Sources: Pexels | Unsplash | Tom's of Maine

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Why It's Good

Activated charcoal has been useful throughout the centuries for its incredible absorption and purification properties. When incorporated in a safe toothpaste made with other naturally derived ingredients, you can use this powerful black substance to whiten your smile!