Does Activated Charcoal Actually Whiten Teeth?


Activated charcoal has one key beneficial feature–its binding properties. As such, it has been used to treat acute toxic poisoning for centuries.  In cases of poisoning or overdosing on drugs, charcoal is given to prevent the stomach from absorbing poison. However, oral healthcare products containing activated charcoal have flooded the market in recent decades. Charcoal toothpaste for example claims to whiten teeth. But what does science say about these claims? Read on to learn if activated charcoal actually whitens teeth.

Activated Charcoal May Lighten Surface Stains

Multiple studies have concluded that although toothpaste containing activated charcoal may remove some surface stains on the teeth, there is no evidence that it is more effective than any other toothpaste. In other words, activated charcoal does not whiten teeth. The reason? To whiten the teeth, stains beneath the surface (enamel) need to be treated.  

Are there Risks of Using Activated Charcoal Toothpaste?

Unfortunately, activated charcoal toothpaste may cause more damage than the minor stain-lightening benefits. Activated charcoal is a fine, but abrasive powder. The abrasive characteristic of activated charcoal may wear away at tooth enamel. This enamel erosion can cause your teeth to appear more yellow than white.

It’s also important to note that many activated charcoal kinds of toothpaste do not contain fluoride. Fluoride is essential for preventing tooth decay that leads to cavities. Those with dental restorations including veneers, dental crowns, or composite fillings may also find that daily use of toothpaste containing activated charcoal, stains the dental restorations. Finally, some people who use activated charcoal toothpaste daily may develop tooth sensitivity.

Professional Teeth Whitening Provides the Best Results

Of all of the various teeth whitening products available, the best results will come from professional in-office teeth whitening at your dentist’s practice. Using dental-grade whitening products, which contain a higher concentration of whitening agents, and a special light to maximize whitening, in-office teeth whitening provides excellent results in roughly one hour.

Take-home whitening kits available from your dentist will also give better results than any products you’ll find in stores or online. These professional-grade whitening kits also contain higher concentrations of whitening agents, but it takes time for full results to appear.

Alternatives to Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is one of the most affordable cosmetic dental treatments, making it a cost-effective way to upgrade your smile. However, results are temporary and you’ll need to repeat the treatment to maintain your results. Teeth that have been treated with dental restorations, also won’t respond to teeth whitening. 

Other options for getting a gleaming smile include porcelain veneers. Veneers are responsible for the dazzling smiles found on celebrities. Veneers allow you to makeover your smile with teeth that are perfectly aligned, equal in length, and brilliantly white.  

If you have a single or a couple of discolored teeth, cosmetic bonding or dental crowns can also restore your teeth to a beautiful whiter shade. 

Schedule a Cosmetic Dental Consultation in Aliso Viejo

At Aliso Smiles in Aliso Viejo, Dr. Patel provides comprehensive cosmetic dental treatments and services. To schedule an appointment, call 949-916-7800 or send us a message

Frequently Asked Questions

Does teeth whitening hurt?

The process of having your teeth whitened doesn’t hurt as it is a non-invasive procedure. Gum and tooth sensitivity may occur after the treatment. If you have sensitive teeth, talk with your dentist before scheduling teeth whitening.

Can I finance teeth whitening?

Yes, with CareCredit financing you can pay for your teeth whitening over time with low-interest monthly payments.