Does Activated Charcoal Teeth Whitening ACTUALLY Work?

Let’s cut to the chase. Does activated charcoal teeth whitening ACTUALLY work?

The short answer is yes. And no.

As incredibly frustrating as that answer may be, trust me, there is a reason behind it. I’m sure most of you are aware of this phenomenon that has been trending on social media. The ads were hard to miss, with videos of influencers brushing their teeth with what looks like ground coffee. And I have to admit, the “after” results of using this black powder looked promising.

This charcoal has actually been used in traditional medicine since the 1800s. Its absorbent properties “might” be useful in counteracting the effects of poisoning and other stomach related issues. But although it’s safe to ingest and can whiten your teeth to some extent, there is a reason that it’s not approved by the ADA (American Dental Association) or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Let me explain.

How It Works

If you’re not sure what I mean by activated charcoal teeth whitening, it’s a black powder made out of natural substances that retail companies sell as an at-home teeth whitening method. You can find them over the counter at most convenient shops or supermarkets.

The trendy social media videos typically show individuals using a toothbrush to cover their enamel with the activated charcoal powder. As I mentioned, this substance has absorbent properties. That, combined with its gritty texture, helps it cling onto plaque and stains and remove it from your teeth. This, in theory, should help you achieve that whiter smile.

However, there is no scientific evidence backing up the claim that activated charcoal teeth whitening actually works. In fact, it could do more harm than good.

RELATED: Teeth Whitening in Chicago

Pros and Cons of Activated Charcoal Teeth Whitening

I don’t want to completely burst your bubble, so let me start by sharing the pros of activated charcoal teeth whitening.


  • It can temporarily get rid of surface stains
  • It’s safe to inject
  • It’s easy to use
  • It’s easy to obtain (over-the-counter)

Such simple and easily accessible methods tend to become popular. And I understand that some people don’t want to spend the time or money by going to the dentist for a more permanent teeth whitening solution. But here’s where the product gets a little finicky:


  • The abrasiveness of the product destroys your enamel
  • It doesn’t remove stains from excessively discolored teeth
  • It can crack, scratch, and even chip your teeth
  • It’s easy to obtain (over-the-counter)

RELATED: Teeth Whitening Tips for Coffee Lovers

    Dr. Siegel’s Advice

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with DIY teeth whitening methods. It just so happens that this particular product is so aggressive, that it could end up damaging your enamel in the long run.

    And we definitely don’t want that.

    If you do want to try activated charcoal teeth whitening at home, come see me at Big Smile Dental in Chicago first. I will be able to determine if a couple of uses will help alleviate some of your teeth stains. Or I can tell you if your teeth discoloration won’t be affected by such at-home remedies. Another bit of advice if you end up using this is to use it in moderation. However, I would recommend utilizing more secure products that are ADA approved. A combination of routine brushing with fluoride toothpaste and regular check-ins with your local Chicago dentist should be enough to keep your smile from yellowing.

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