March 24, 2019 | 47° F

Polish those pearly whites with black, activated charcoal


After many years of coating my teeth with layers of coffee, cola and wine stains, my teeth had taken a turn of a slightly off-white hue. Not yellow, but I did not boast a perfect, glistening pair of pearly whites. And I am not immune to the confines of the superficial world we live in: like many others, I want a glistening pair of pearly whites. You can not combat everything with Crest. 

So once I noticed many of my friends (and Drake) were brightening their teeth with activated charcoal, a heated, oxidized version of your summer grilling go-to, it piqued my interest. Perhaps this dusty substance could be my game changer. It has not only become a must-try recipe for stripping teeth of the stains from beverages, but it has sparked the obsession of health nuts and beauty geeks everywhere for its toxin-removing properties. I had to try it, so I did — I decided to give the charcoal two weeks to wow me. 

There are a few brands and ways to smother charcoal on your teeth, a really popular pick is Hello Products’ Activated Charcoal Fluoride-Free Whitening Toothpaste and you can find it all around: at Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and Wegmans. You can even buy activated charcoal tablets, open them up and sprinkle them onto a wet toothbrush.

I began by giving two methods a try: a minty flavored toothpaste by My Magic Mud’s Activated Charcoal Toothpaste and Living Earth Market’s Black Pearl Teeth Whitening Powder, which is an organic, all-natural mix of activated charcoal and bentonite clay. Each required the same idea: use the charcoal in the place of your standard toothpaste.

During the two weeks, I opted for the powder and it was love at first brush, kind of. Within a few days of twice-a-day use, I noticed my teeth inching toward brightness. As for differences between the two, the toothpaste leaves your mouth with a minty flavor à la most toothpastes and is just a little messy, while the powder is slightly chalky, flavorless and will leave you wiping up your sink afterward (likely your mirror, too). If you favor the powder, it is not a bad idea to brush away while you scrub up in the shower. 

But no matter which one you choose, there is so much novelty to brushing your teeth with charcoal. When I first used it, I felt like Megan Fox in “Jennifer’s Body.” My whole mouth was black and of course, I spit and dripped it. Temporarily painting your teeth can really make you appreciate what your teeth do for your appearance and in a weird way, it can reinvigorate your brushing routine. 

Since it is so messy, I found that it is important to be mindful of what you are wearing, as one morning in the middle of the experiment my grey tee shirt fell victim to my own charcoal-brushing negligence. An onrush of soapy water was enough to quickly restore the shirt, but still.

All messes and subsequent clean-ups aside, I noticed my teeth growing gradually whiter over the past two weeks, and they feel cleaner, too, all while I would continued to enjoy my daily coffee routine.

At the end of my little trial, the difference has not been extraordinary since my teeth were not in terribly bad condition to begin with, but I have noticed that a few stains have been swept away. And while my results were not dramatic, I have found that brushing your teeth with charcoal is not a silly trend, it can be a real way to get a glistening pair of pearly whites.

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