We select and review products independently. When you purchase through our links we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Brighten Your Smile with an Activated Charcoal Toothpaste or Powder

Charcoal toothpaste on a toothbrush.
Vladimir Gjorgiev/Shutterstock

Activated charcoal has been a popular ingredient in teeth whitening products for quite some time, but does it really work? The short answer is yes, but it’s complex.

A nice set of pearly whites can boost anyone’s confidence. Unfortunately, our teeth are porous and tend to be stained by dark foods and liquids like coffee, tea, and wine. Of course, you can have them professionally whitened, but that’s certainly not the most affordable option.

Adding activated charcoal to your oral health routine can whiten your teeth, and save you some cash, to boot! Below, we’ll break it all down as well as recommend some activated charcoal pastes and powders.

What Exactly Is Activated Charcoal?

Activated charcoal is a form of carbon that’s been specifically processed to be highly absorbent. Manufacturers employ carbon-rich elements, such as wood, coconut shells, and peat, and heat them to very high temperatures in the presence of a gas.

This process causes molecular changes in the material resulting in the formation of tiny pores that increase the surface area, and thus, the degree of absorption. For reference, a teaspoon of activated charcoal has a surface area equivalent to that of a football field!

Emergency rooms are commonly equipped with this substance to treat cases of overdose and poisoning. Over-the-counter tablets and capsules of activated charcoal are often used to treat flatulence, indigestion, and kidney disease. However, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to support these practices.

Can Activated Charcoal Whiten Your Teeth, and Is It Safe?

Natural activated charcoal toothpaste in glass jar next to a bamboo toothbrush.
Bogdan Sonjachnyj/Shutterstock

In short, yes, activated charcoal can whiten your teeth but only to a certain extent. As we mentioned above, it’s highly absorbent and also mildly abrasive.

Teeth are also porous, which is why they lose their brightness over time. However, they’re protected by a layer of enamel, a highly resistant calcified tissue. So, in order for a substance to whiten your teeth, it has to work both on surface-level stains as well as on those beneath the layer of enamel.

Activated charcoal only works on stains present on the surface. As a result, the effects are limited and temporary. So while it might not have the same effect as professional teeth whitening, it can help boost the brightness of your smile in the short term.

Activated charcoal as a teeth whitening substance has no known serious side effects. Nevertheless, it should be used with caution.

Given its abrasive nature, it should only be used twice a week at most to prevent damage to your pearly whites. Given its black color, there’s a risk of accumulation of charcoal on cracks and crevices in your mouth, which could ultimately stain your teeth. It’s always best to rinse your mouth thoroughly after every use.

Powder or Paste?

As there hasn’t been a lot of research done on the topic, it all comes down to personal preference. Whether you use activated charcoal powder or toothpaste, you’re bound to end up with a brighter smile.

Below, you’ll find a few options to check out if you’re looking to give it a try.

Hello Oral Care Activated Charcoal Toothpaste

Someone squeezing Hello Oral Health's charcoal toothpaste tube over a black toothbrush.
Hello Oral Care

This toothpaste by Hello Oral Care is a great option for those looking for a natural and vegan-friendly alternative to traditional toothpaste. It contains mint for a fresh breath and coconut oil for an even brighter smile. It’s also very affordable, so it’s worth a try if you’re curious.

 Laguna Moon Activated Charcoal Powder

Laguna Moon's activated charcoal powder box and bamboo toothbrush.
Laguna Moon

If you’re looking to give the powder version a try, this one by Laguna Moon is a good option to try out—it even comes with a bamboo toothbrush!

All you have to do is lightly dip your wet toothbrush on the powder and brush your teeth for two minutes. It’ll give you a scary-movie-level smile, but it’ll make way for a shiny white smile once you rinse thoroughly and remove all residue.

 Crest 3D White Charcoal Toothpaste

A Crest 3D teeth whitening charcoal toothpaste box and an ad with some on a black toothbrush.

Crest’s loyal customers will be happy to know that there’s a charcoal version of the standard white toothpaste. It freshens your breath, gently whitens your teeth, and strengthens your enamel. Hard to say no to that!

GloBoid Charcoal Whitening Toothpaste Tablets

A see-through container with GloBoid's activated charcoal toothpaste tablets standing next to its box on a sink

If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try charcoal toothpaste tablets like these from GloBoid? It’s a vegan and eco-friendly option with plastic-free and recyclable packaging, no SLS, and no GMO included. It’s also ideal for taking with you in your carry-on, as it won’t count as a liquid.

They’re also very easy to use—just pop a tablet in your mouth, chew on it for a few seconds until it begins to foam, then brush as usual. You’ll have a clean, bright smile in no time.

Activated Charcoal Whitening Toothpaste by Tom’s of Maine

Three boxes of Tom's of Maine toothpaste.
Tom’s of Maine

Those ready to invest in a reliable toothpaste brand and stock up for the next couple of months should check out this option by Tom’s of Maine.

It’s safe for everyday use, protects your enamel, brightens your teeth, and leaves your breath smelling like peppermint. It’s a decent deal worth trying.

Adding activated charcoal to your oral health routine is an affordable way to keep your teeth looking bright and shiny until your next dental appointment. If you’re also looking for a natural way to maintain gum health, you might want to look into oil pulling next.

Carla Cometto Carla Cometto
Carla has been writing professionally for five years and blogging for many more. She's worked as a journalist, photographer, and translator. She's also an avid traveler who hopes to inspire a sense of curiosity and adventure in others through her writing. Read Full Bio »
LifeSavvy is focused on one thing: making your life outside of work even better. Want to know more?