You’ve seen it on Pinterest and YouTube. So what’s really the deal with using activated charcoal to whiten your teeth?
Um, but charcoal is black. It may seem counterintuitive to apply a jet-black substance to your teeth to whiten them. But proponents believe that just as activated charcoal can be used to absorb impurities and toxins (see: air filters, emergency antipoisoning treatments), it can be used to remove stains from your teeth too.
So how do you do it? You can buy activated charcoal powder in capsules at the drugstore or online. Empty a couple of capsules, mix with a bit of water, and apply the paste to your teeth with a toothbrush. Voila!
Don’t forget the fluoride. There are no scientific studies backing up this usage for charcoal, and dentists warn that it should not be a substitute for your regular dental hygiene regimen: flossing, using mouthwash — and most important, brushing with a fluoride toothpaste. You still need fluoride to prevent tooth decay. And please check with your dentist before starting any new procedures.
Use sparingly. If you’re reluctant to use a homemade remedy, you can opt to buy one of the many fluoride toothpastes now on the market that has charcoal as an ingredient. (Even Colgate sells a “Charcoal Deep Clean” toothpaste.) But if you’re all in, take care not to overdo it. Charcoal’s abrasive nature may end up damaging the enamel on your teeth. If you experience any sensitivity, it’s probably best to move on to the next teeth-whitening trend.