For the past 20 or so years, I have been brushing my teeth with some variation of mint-flavored toothpaste twice a day.
I do recall a few occasions where begging my mom for bubblegum or some other disgusting-sounding flavor paid off as a child.
As my adult teeth grew in and I began being in charge of my own toothpaste purchases, I would find myself drawn to the tubes that promised things like “advanced whitening.”
Needless to say, my teeth have never sparkled the way pearly whites do in commercials. I know special effects are partly to blame for creating unrealistic expectations, but it still made me wonder whether there were alternative teeth-whitening options.
I had heard about how brushing your teeth with activated charcoal is supposed to help whiten and remove stains, so I thought, why not try it?
I decided to replace my toothpaste with a jar of activated charcoal capsules for a week. Here’s what happened.
What Is Activated Charcoal, And Why Is It Good For Your Teeth?
The most important (and frankly, off-putting) thing to know about activated charcoal is that it is a black powder.
If we want to get more technical, it’s a form of carbon that’s been heavily processed to make it extremely porous for absorption and chemical reactions, according to the New World Encyclopedia.
Its highly absorbent quality means that it is used in things like water filtration systems, and even for sewage treatment.
The bottle I got is a dietary supplement, and is listed to “quickly relieve gas and bloating.” Larger quantities can also be used for absorbing poisonous substances from your stomach.
Activated charcoal’s absorbent quality is supposed to also help lift stains off your teeth.
How To Use Activated Charcoal To Whiten Teeth
Although there are toothpastes that are specifically made to be infused with activated charcoal, I decided to try a cheaper but more labor-intensive option: DIY charcoal toothpaste.
All you need is a bottle of charcoal capsules, a toothbrush, and a sink. I would recommend splurging on a new toothbrush instead of dirtying your regular one.
Simply wet your toothbrush and carefully pull the capsule apart in your sink. Then sprinkle its black contents onto the bristles. Pop the brush into your mouth and brush normally for the dentist-recommended two minutes.
Not surprisingly, you’re going to have to rinse more than usual to wash the black residue out of your mouth completely.
I will be the first to admit that my teeth are not nearly as white as they could be.
While I would love to blind people with my dazzlingly white teeth, it isn’t the type of thing I’ve ever experimented much with other than the previously mentioned whitening toothpaste.
Of course, drinking more cups of coffee per day than I’m proud to admit doesn’t help my cause.
I had no idea what to expect when i first brushed my teeth on Monday night.
Brushing my teeth is honestly not one of the things I look forward to doing every day, and the added factor of doing it with mystery black powder made it even more daunting.
Turns out, activated charcoal has pretty much no taste, and it actually did leave my teeth feeling squeaky clean.
Be aware that brushing with activated charcoal is messy, especially when you’re pulling apart capsules and are clumsy about it like me.
Your sink might look like a scene from a horror movie you hope never gets written.
Spitting out black stuff into the sink is also an odd thing you’ll have to get used to.
By the third day, I was fairly used to the routine.
As someone who normally prioritizes an extra five minutes of sleep over eating breakfast or putting on eyeliner, it was a little annoying to drowsily pull apart pills in the morning and clean up the mess.
In case you couldn’t already tell, it’s nearly impossible to take pictures and look like anything other than a monster when your mouth is full of black stuff.
While the process became easier, the pictures did not become any cuter.
By day four, I was hoping that there would be some progress in my results.
If there were, I didn’t notice. I am aware that these things take time, and that there is no guarantee that my experiment will be a success, but I’m a little bummed I’m not seeing more progress.
By day five, I think that I finally perfected the art of brushing my teeth without making a huge mess.
I will say that brushing my teeth through this more complicated method made me miss how easy it is to use toothpaste.
On the bright side, having to clean my sink on a twice-daily basis with an antibacterial wipe has meant the sink is getting some extra TLC.
I just hope my teeth will be this shiny when this is all over.