You’ve probably seen some ads, videos, or articles online about activated charcoal toothpaste, accompanied by people brushing with black mouths—to whiten their teeth? Sounds counterintuitive, right? Portales dentist Peter L. Thompson, DDS wants to share some information on a trend you may be curious about: activated charcoal as a teeth whitening, breath freshening toothpaste.
In fact, activated charcoal is a multi-purpose ingredient found in an increasing number of products seemingly every day, and is used in many potentially unexpected ways, including:
Are you surprised we didn’t mention backyard grilling? Charcoal and activated charcoal may share a name and some materials in common, but the similarities end there. Charcoal briquettes are a toxic substance not meant for human consumption. The production processes and the way they interact with other molecules is very different, so we advise our Portales friends and neighbors to use charcoal briquettes only for burgers, hot dogs, steaks, chicken, vegetables—whatever you fancy—just don’t eat it or scrub your teeth with it.
Activated charcoal’s detoxifying power works through a process called adsorption. Instead of absorbing toxins and chemicals and helping them assimilate into the bloodstream, activated charcoal causes elements to bind to its millions of tiny pores for removal through waste, or in this case: spitting. When using it as a toothpaste or powder, its pores will bind to surface stains, plaque, and food particles for easier removal. Combined with its darkness, charcoal toothpaste may make your teeth appear whiter, whether by contrast or the regular cleaning and stain-removal process.
Not necessarily. Activated charcoal is quite abrasive and therefore works to remove surface-level stains that can be caused by coffee, red wine, tobacco, and colorful foods (think of delicious curries containing turmeric). However, if you have stains that are intrinsic (within the tooth) instead of extrinsic, whether they’re the result of trauma, weak enamel, medications, or overuse of fluoride, you’ll still get the most benefit from a professional whitening treatment.
That’s a fancy word that means: “Don’t use this if…” While activated charcoal is probably going to be harmless for you to try as a toothpaste, Dr. Thompson recommends taking it slow and easy. Evaluate your brushing technique and be ready to clean your sink, countertop, and surrounding areas when you use an activated charcoal product. For additional protection, avoid wearing your favorite pieces of clothing, because this stuff can stain like nobody’s business—don’t worry, it will not stain your natural teeth.
Consult with your Portales dentist if you have dental restorations like crowns, veneers, or tooth-colored fillings—unfortunately, these materials do run the risk of being stained by the activated charcoal. If you experience sensitivity, we recommend using it no more than once a week, if at all.
We want our friends and neighbors to exercise caution and make the best decisions for their oral and overall health. If you find that activated charcoal makes your mouth look and feel its best, we’re here to support you. However, if it appears to be weakening your enamel or causing your gums to recede, we’ll let you know at your exams and work with you to prevent further damage.
Additionally, if you have tried activated charcoal or other at-home methods of teeth whitening but still feel like your smile could use a boost, we can customize a professional whitening treatment just for you. Contact your Portales dentist to schedule an appointment today!
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
After hours? Fill out this form and a member from our team will get back to you ASAP on the following business day!
“What a feeling – being able to smile any time I want without shielding my two front teeth with my hand anymore! I must admit, I didn’t know much about veneers until a friend of mine mentioned them to me. He piqued my curiosity, but it was only after I spoke to Dr. Thompson and his staff that I decided to go ahead with the procedure.
I have had horrible experiences with several previous dentists and the thought of extensive work in my mouth was not appealing to me. Especially because I have a very low tolerance for pain. I can honestly say that Dr. Thompson and his staff are one-of-a-kind, and truly the best out there! Not only are the very efficient and use state of the art procedures and materials, but they are compassionate and caring. I had never thought that a healthy smile would give me such a confidence boost, but it sure did! It used to be that people always told me that my eyes smiled when I spoke to them… Now I smile with much more than my eyes!”
“I first came to Dr. Thompson’s office in January of 2010. I had been having headaches due to muscular tension in my jaw. I suffer from a relatively rare genetic disorder called Amelogenesis imperfecta. This disorder affects the enamel formation in teeth, and I basically had no enamel on my teeth as a child and adult. Due to this I had to have all my teeth removed and replaced with dentures when I was only 25.
Dentures also present some problems: because I no longer had tooth roots in my jaw, my bone slowly began to deteriorate and atrophy, both in my upper and lower jaws. Eventually, by the age of 43, I developed severe migraine headaches due to how much my jaw had changed shape over time.
This is where Dr. Thompson came in. He diagnosed the problem quickly and told me that if I didn’t get implants soon my jaws would atrophy to the point where they could no longer support dentures or implants. Before getting implants, he was able to modify my dentures so my headaches went away within a matter of a day or so. What a relief!
Now, implants are expensive, but not as expensive as I thought they would be, and it is certainly better than the alternative of not having any teeth at all, dentures or otherwise. The implants had to be installed (for lack of a better term) over the course of 3 surgeries. The surgeries were completed in the mornings and I was sent home the same day.
Recovery was roughly 3-6 months between surgeries. It was over a year from the time I first visited Dr. Thompson until I got my final implants, but the final result has been great! My new implants are much more stable than my old dentures and I can now eat things that I never could before. I don’t have to fuss with using adhesive to secure my dentures anymore, and my headaches are a thing of the past! Plus my jaws have stopped shrinking due to the implants.
Dr. Thompson and his staff were very friendly and professional during the entire process. I have been to many dentists in the past, but Dr. Thompson is easily the best.”
“When I found Doctor Thompson, you could honestly say I was at my end. All hope of ever having a normal pain-free life was entirely out of reach and there was no way anyone could possibly help me. I had been repeatedly let down by doctors, specialists, and dentists I had been to. I was convinced these people were only there to hurt you and take your money, not actually sit down with you and help you!”
My teeth were beautiful when something really bad began to happen. My teeth began breaking and wearing away. I brushed and did everything I had always been taught to protect your teeth, but nothing seemed to be helping. I saw a billboard with Dr. Thompson. I cried to my husband every time I passed it…. I only wished that I could find someone who could be what he claimed to be. I passed that billboard many times and highly doubted the possibility that he could help me. The last dentist I had gone to hurt me so bad that I was not about to trust anyone else to touch me. So I lived with it.
The day came when decided I had to trust someone. I had just gone through two pregnancies that took all the nutrients I had, therefore speeding up the deterioration of my teeth. I lived in a dark blur of pain, looked at the ground when I spoke to people, and sipped on liquid Tylenol like it was water. ALL I wanted was to be able to be the best Mommy I could be. I was able to care for them and give them everything they needed, but I couldn’t do a lot of things. It was just too painful. I wanted more for my babies! I wanted them to see their Mommy feeling wonderful and able to look her best. I wanted to show them I could interact with other people and not be afraid.
That was all a dream until I finally broke down and decided that I would never know if Dr. Thompson could help me if I didn’t ask. So, one day in 2010, I made the call. The call that would change my perspective on people and their ability to help others. That day I met Micah, and what an angel she was for me! They knew I was terrified and they did their very best to comfort me. No one can truly understand what you are going through until they have lived it, but they tried harder than anyone I had ever seen. My report was as I knew it would be, they would not be able to save my teeth. I would have to have them all removed.
At 28 years old, it’s not exactly the highlight of your life, but when you have been in so much pain and a dentist looks at you, almost with tears in his eyes and tells you that he is going to help you, it will bring life back to your view on your situation. I realized at that moment that these people were my friends and they were going to be there all the way.
One short visit and I walked away with a new mouth. At first, it was totally foreign to me to have a complete set of teeth in my mouth. It was painful, and was not easy having to relearn a lot of things all over again. With their support and confidence, they helped me believe I could do everything right again. I am writing this a year later and I could not be happier with MY smile. I have my complete set of dentures with two implants on bottom that allow the bottom denture to snap in without any troubles at all. It was a very hard road, but one that I have no regrets taking. I have my new beautiful teeth…. I can smile, talk, sing, laugh, and eat. Most importantly I feel amazing. I can be the wife that my husband deserves and the Mommy that my two little girls need me to be, energetic and fun!
There is no greater feeling in the world than knowing I will never hurt like that ever again. Everything was worth it for me. I don’t mind sharing to the world that Dr. Thompson and his team were the most dedicated and outstanding people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. They took care of me, and I will forever be grateful that I called them.”