As someone who’s tried multiple teeth whitening products in the past, I can tell you that getting your pearly whites brighter is no easy feat. I’ve experimented with a variety of whitening strips, but they’ve always left my teeth and gums feeling overly sensitive. Gel trays aren’t much better (they make me gag), and I have yet to meet one of those light treatments that actually does a damn thing. So, when I recently came across some charcoal tooth powder on Amazon with positive reviews and a large number of people extolling its whitening power, I decided it was worth a shot.
Here’s what I learned:
After trying it once, I definitely wouldn’t recommend brushing your teeth with charcoal at the sink. You see, unlike toothpaste, charcoal doesn’t really want to stay in your mouth. It runs out of the corners of your mouth and down your chin, leaving a trail of black goo that would make Alice Cooper proud. And since charcoal can stain clothing, carpet, tile, and grout, it’s not exactly the friendliest of substances to be using over the bathroom sink.
The solution — at least for me — is to brush your teeth in the shower. This way, the charcoal simply washes off your skin and down the drain. Easy peasy, no mess, no stains.
It’s a Bit Gritty
I was expecting the charcoal to feel like sand against my teeth, but it really didn’t. It has the texture of a very fine silt — you don’t feel it so much when brushing, but you do when you swish it around in your mouth. As long as you use a soft toothbrush and don’t brush too hard, it will do a great job of polishing your teeth without injuring your gums.
But It’s Not Unpleasant
Initially, I was really concerned about how the charcoal would taste. Well, I can happily report that, much like water, it doesn’t really have a flavor. Other than the mess and the very, very slight grittiness, it’s a pleasant enough experience. And really, watching a large amount of black water run down your body and into the drain can make a person feel incredibly metal.
Or, at least a little bit rock and roll.
It Can Get Stuck Between Your Teeth
Depending on the shape and spacing of your teeth, as well as how thoroughly you floss, charcoal can collect between your teeth. It may be visible enough for you to panic and try to brush or floss it away, or it may not be noticeable at all. I honestly had no idea it was happening until my dental hygienist pointed out all the black stuff she was removing from between my teeth during a routine cleaning.
To remedy this, you can use a waterpik after brushing to help wash away any residual powder.
It May Not Give You the Results You’re Looking For
After a few months of brushing daily with charcoal, I saw no difference in the color of my teeth. I even took plenty of pictures along the way (I really wanted one of those dramatic “before and after” shots.) I can’t say I wasn’t a bit disappointed. I had pretty high hopes.
However, despite not getting the gleaming white teeth I was looking forward to, I enjoyed how slick and clean my teeth felt after brushing with charcoal. It’s a lot like how your teeth feel just after you’ve had them professionally cleaned — but without the pain!
So there you have it! Charcoal tooth powder is messy, gritty, and doesn’t whiten as well as advertised (if at all), but it does leave your teeth feeling incredibly fresh. I now use it every other day (alternating with regular toothpaste) in order to keep that “just from the dentist” clean feeling. If you’re looking for an alternative to regular toothpaste, or want to see if it whitens better for you than it did for me, give charcoal a try!
But make sure you brush in the shower. Your tile will thank you.
Liz Greene is a dog loving, beard envying, pop culture geek from the beautiful city of trees, Boise, Idaho. You can catch up with her latest misadventures on Instant Lo or follow her on Twitter@LizVGreene.