May 29, 2014

Whiten Your Teeth with Activated Charcoal (NO Sensitivity)

Top photo is (obvi) before I whitened. Don't judge me, I love my black coffee. Bottom photo is just after 2 "brushings" with the activated charcoal in one day (once in morning, once at night)

Growing up, I tried and experimented with just about every single at-home beauty treatment I could find. I'm sure I drove my poor parents insane with the messes I would create in our house as a teenager. Various facial masks with yogurt, raw eggs, honey, turmeric, mayonnaise, cinnamon, milk, avocados, mud...I could go on and on. Hair hennas, DIY nail polish, DIY lipstick, rinsing my hair with beer and cold tea. Needless to say, there were much riskier experiments as well, luckily my brain has blocked those out so that you don't have to hear about them. I'm sure my mom could recount all of them with great detail (sorry, Mom!)

I'm always up for new methods and processes for brightening my skin, getting rid of wrinkles or zits or large pores, getting the shiniest hair possible, and whitening my teeth. A while back, I wrote about my current at-home teeth whitening process that is very inexpensive and very effective. I'm one of the (lucky) few who has teeth that don't respond negatively to baking soda and peroxide. However, if you're one of the many who experience sensitive teeth and sore, irritated gums after any type of whitening process then BOY HOWDY do I have good news for you!

I had been reading a lot lately about the benefits of using activated charcoal (also called activated carbon) to naturally (and safely) whiten teeth. I took it as a sign from the Beauty Blog Gods when my good friend Lindsey text me asking if I had ever heard of this method and if I had ever tried it (for the record, I love getting these texts from my friends asking if I've heard of or tried various products. It makes me happy to think of them seeing some crazy thing and wondering to themselves "I bet Colleen has tried it! I'm going to ask her!") I responded to her telling her I had heard of it, but had never tried it. Of course my next immediate thought was "CHALLENGE: ACCEPTED". So, I set out on a journey to the interwebs to research and purchase the goods.

My apologies for the lazy "look" I'm sporting here with my beanie and no makeup. I was chasing a toddler around all day and was all sweaty and gross from our walk up to the library earlier. Just try to focus on the blinding white teeth!

Before we get started, let's cover a few basic pinch points and questions you may have, shall we?

Activated Charcoal vs. Regular Charcoal
There is a BIG difference between activated charcoal and the kind of charcoal that is chillin' out in your BBQ and fireplace. Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT go grab a handful from your grill and crush it up to use in your mouth. Activated charcoal (the kinds we'll be using for teeth whitening) is clean, porous and purified and is meant to suck up all the impurities from whatever environment it is placed into. Regular charcoal (the kind found in your bbq and fireplace) is chalk full of impurities and all sorts of crap you'd never want anywhere near your mouth. Plus, it is not even close to being as porous as activated charcoal.

Because activated charcoal is meant to absorb, lots of people use it to "detox" the system, however, if taken with any type of medication, it will make your medication completely useless. Due to the fact that there is not enough research out supporting whether or not it can absorb vital nutrients or vitamins, I personally wouldn't take it orally in pill or capsule form, but that's just me. Additionally, you might see it used in water filtration systems (like Britas or even fish tanks). Don't let this scare you off: there is no weird "taste". It is completely tasteless.

How it Whitens Teeth
Activated charcoal sucks up and removes tannins. You can find tannins in all sorts of foods and beverages, including a couple of my personal favorites: COFFEE and WINE. The activated charcoal will absorb all the tannins (which cause the staining and yellowish tint on teeth) and here's the coolest part, it WILL NOT wear down tooth enamel causing that dreaded tooth sensitivity! HALLELUJAH! Activated charcoal only wants those tannins, not your enamel.

Where to Find Activated Charcoal
There are multiple ways you can use activated charcoal to whiten your teeth. You can buy it in capsule form (break it open and pour out the powder inside), you can buy it in bulk powder, bulk granules (you just grind it into a powder yourself), toothpastes with activated charcoal already in it (very hard to find). I do what I always do when I'm looking for something, I hit up Amazon. I found many different types of activated charcoal that can be used for teeth whitening here. After looking around on other websites and reading various reviews on Amazon, I decided to go with a big tub that has the activated charcoal in kind of a rough granule form. I have a Magic Bullet so I just ground it up into a fine powder. Here are a few options for you if you don't feel like looking: capsule form, powder form and here, granule form (to be ground up using either a Magic Bullet or an old coffee grinder).

Here's what mine looks like:

Once I got a fine powder, I placed about a teaspoon of it into a small ramekin, added about 1 tablespoon of water (you can do less if you want a thicker consistency) and then used a toothbrush to "stir" it up and gently brush onto my teeth. I let the lovely tar colored mixture sit on my teeth for about 5 minutes to really let it do it's "thang". If you use this method, make sure to kind of keep your lips closed around the toothbrush so you don't fling black matter all over the place. If it gets in your sink (and it WILL) don't panic, it doesn't stain. It wipes clean with water and a little soap. Now, your toothbrush on the other hand will remain a bit black even after you rinse it. It will get on your lips but it will rinse completely clean with just water. After you've let the activated charcoal sit on your teeth as long as you can stand it, swish with water a few times and spit it out down the sink. Once you feel you've gotten most of it out, go ahead and brush your teeth as usual to remove any remaining charcoal. I also strongly suggest flossing to remove any charcoal that may have gotten lodged between your teeth. You don't want to look like you slammed a huge Costco poppy seed muffin, do you? Nah, didn't think so.

Ack!!! This is a mental picture that is sure to stick with you for a while! I mistakenly applied this to my teeth and forgot my son could see me. Poor guy took one look at me and went running for the living room faster than a greased pig at the county fair! He was whistling a different tune once he saw how beautifully white and sparkly Mama's teeth were when I rinsed this mess out!

To summarize, this is definitely going to be replacing my previous teeth whitening process. It is SO much more effective and I love that I don't have to fret about ruining my enamel!

Now you'll excuse me while I go get another cup of coffee......

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh, I can't believe this worked! I have been trying to find ways to whiten my teeth, and I would have never thought of using charcoal. My teeth are extremely sensitive, and from what you've said, it sounds like this process doesn't cause any sensitivity! I'm going to have to go out and pick up these products!

    Sara Welsh |


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