Charcoal Powder — Does It Really Whiten Your Teeth?

Charcoal powder is the latest craze for tooth whitening home remedies. But does it really whiten your teeth? We examined this trend to determine whether or not it does everything that all the hype claims it does. We found out that it is safe, but there are no scientific studies currently to back up the claims on teeth whitening.

What is Charcoal Powder?

Charcoal powder for oral usage is not just ground up charcoal pieces from your BBQ grill. Please don’t use those. Charcoal powder is activated charcoal, classified as medical grade or safe for human consumption. This odorless black powder has no flavor and has been used to treat various ailments throughout history.

Charcoal is treated with oxygen applied at extremely high temperatures to create activated charcoal. The initial processing reduces pore size and increases the surface area, thus changing the internal structure. It is distributed in capsules as a nutritional supplement and added to both food and non-food items such as toothpaste and ice cream.

As a supplement, the activated charcoal is not absorbed by your digestive system. The porous structure acts to attract gases and toxins in your stomach, allowing your body to expel them naturally.

Activated charcoal is currently used in medical settings as an anti-poison remedy or to treat drug overdoses. There are claims that it lowers cholesterol, improves kidney function, and assists your body in producing less flatulence. It has also been helpful for water purifying filtration.

Theoretically, for tooth whitening, activated charcoal toothpaste acts as a binder. It binds to stains, bacteria, viruses, and tartar. The binding action is thought to remove the things that cause dental decay.

Is It Safe to Use for Teeth Whitening?

Charcoal powder is considered safe for use in its activated form. Charcoal is frequently used in cases of poisoning. It may sometimes induce vomiting. There is also a risk in powder form that it may be aspirated into the lungs. Activated charcoal should only be administered to treat poisoning within a medical setting.

For tooth whitening, is it best to use activated charcoal that has already been suspended within a toothpaste. If you use it in powdered form, dampen your brush, then dip the brush into the powder. This reduces the risk of inhaling the dry powder.

Charcoal-Based Toothpaste

Charcoal-based toothpaste claims to have a whitening effect on teeth. It is slightly abrasive and might remove surface staining somewhat. There is no supporting evidence that charcoal toothpaste will impact deeper staining. It does not penetrate deep enough to work well on stains below the enamel.

There are some fundamental concerns about the continuous use of charcoal toothpaste because of its abrasive properties. It is also not recommended if you have composite resin fillings, crowns, or veneers because it can scratch the surface. The scratches will allow staining to occur that may not be reversible.

Charcoal-Based Mouthwash

When exploring the efficacy of charcoal-based mouthwashes, no scientific studies back up the claims. Supposedly, these mouthwashes will prevent halitosis (bad breath), whiten teeth, prevent periodontal disease, reduce the potential for cavities, and help restore teeth on a mineral level.

With no scientific evidence to support these claims, it might be better to stick to regular fluoride mouthwashes.

Can Charcoal Powder Be Used Forever?

No. If you choose to use charcoal powder, it should only be used short-term. It would be best if you also continued brushing with your regular toothpaste. When brushing with charcoal powder or charcoal-infused toothpaste, you should use a gentle stroke with a soft-bristled brush.


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Using a medium or stiff brush and brushing aggressively can exacerbate the powder’s abrasive action, causing more damage to your teeth. We examined the pros and cons of charcoal-based tooth products


  • May remove some surface staining on teeth.
  • It might improve bad breath.
  • It might help prevent some staining with occasional use.


  • The abrasiveness may remove tooth enamel, causing yellowing.
  • It only removes surface stains.
  • Daily use can cause teeth to become sensitive.
  • It can cause staining on crowns, veneers, composite fillings, and older teeth.
  • Most brands do not contain fluoride.

The long-term effects of charcoal-based oral care products are not known.

The Downside of Using Activated Charcoal

If you consider using charcoal powder or other charcoal-based oral care products, please discuss this with your dentist or orthodontist. It is recommended that caution be taken when using any of these products because their long-term safety has not been studied adequately.

We know that charcoal toothpaste is abrasive and should not be used daily. This can cause staining rather than reducing it or whitening teeth. It is not safe to use with dental work such as fillings, crowns, and veneers. The charcoal powder can also drift below your gum line, causing irritation and possible inflammation of the gum tissue.

The most significant downside of charcoal-based toothpaste is the lack of fluoride. We know that fluoride can be instrumental in preventing tooth decay and cavities. The advantages of using fluoride-based products are well-known and proven by years of science.

Preventing Tooth Stains

The best advice for maintaining a bright, white smile is actively preventing tooth staining. There are several things that you can do daily to keep your smile bright without resorting to every fad that pops across social media:

  • Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice daily.
  • Floss your teeth daily.
  • Cut down on foods and drinks that stain, such as coffee, red wine, and blueberry pie.
  • Use a straw with stain-causing beverages.
  • Rinse your mouth with water after eating or drinking items that cause staining.
  • Don’t smoke, as this can cause discoloration of your teeth, bad breath, and more.
  • Chew sugar-free gum after consuming acidic foods to reduce the impact of acids on your teeth.

There are many tooth whitening products out there. If you are interested in a brighter smile, please discuss it with Dr. Leslie Pitner before trying new products, gimmicks, or do-it-yourself remedies.

Pitner Orthodontics Cares About Your Smile

The entire staff at Pitner Orthodontics is dedicated to providing outstanding oral care for our patients. Whether you need Invisalign, clear braces, or other orthodontic care, we are eager to work with you. You can begin today by scheduling your initial consultation.

Signs to Get a New Toothbrush Head

Knowing the telltale signs to get a new toothbrush head will keep your brushing habits on the upper tier. Using an old head on an electric toothbrush reduces the efficiency of your brushing. This may leave plaque or other debris on your teeth, causing decay or worse.

Physical Signs to Get a New Toothbrush Head

There are definitive physical signs that you should change your toothbrush head. Manufacturers will recommend that you change every three months with or without the physical signs of degradation. Some manufacturers also employ a color-changing system to let users know when to change. New heads have brightly colored bristles that fade over time. When the color is gone, it is time to change the head on your toothbrush.

Some of the telltale signs that are visible on your toothbrush head:

  • Frayed or worn bristles
  • Brushing seems less effective
  • Old toothpaste is “stuck” around the base of bristles

Although many people believe that manufacturers only recommend changing the toothbrush head to sell more products, it is more complicated than that. Bacteria develop over time. Even when you rinse or clean your brush regularly, bacteria are still present. It is also a fact that new bristles remove more plaque.


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This brings us to subscription services. There are several available through manufacturers and online retailers. They work on a fairly simple plan. Once you purchase your electric toothbrush, you enroll in a service. Every three months, they send you a new toothbrush head. When it arrives, you change it out. Simple and effective, computerized, and no burden on you other than paying the fee for the service and the cost for new heads.

Other Times It Is Good to Replace Your Toothbrush Head

Health organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Dental Association (ADA) have also weighed in on the great debate. They recommend that people replace toothbrushes and toothbrush heads every three to four months.

There are other circumstances when you should replace your toothbrush head early:

  • If someone else has used your brush
  • When a child (or frustrated adult) has chewed on it causing premature fraying
  • If it is dropped on the floor
  • After anyone has been ill, especially with things like strep throat

It is always better to err with caution in mind. To quote an over-used cliché, “Better safe than sorry.”

When You’re In Doubt — Just Change it Out

Toothbrushes and toothbrush heads are relatively inexpensive. There are times when you might use a brush for one month, and sometimes longer than the recommended four months. The bottom line is that if you are wondering if it is time for a new toothbrush head — it is.

If you have additional questions about the signs to get a new toothbrush head, please ask us at Pitner Orthodontics. Our knowledgeable staff is always eager to help!

If you are ready to explore different ways to perfect your smile, contact Pitner Ortho for a FREE Smile Assessment. This package, with a value of $249, will offer alternatives to help you achieve the smile of your dreams. We have three locations serving the Columbia, SC area, including one office dedicated to adults only!

Please visit our pages on Facebook and Instagram. Also, check out the great information on our orthodontic blog.

How Often Should You Replace Your Toothbrush?

How Often Should You Replace Your Toothbrush? The answer to this debate usually depends on who you talk to. The normal assumption is that you should be replacing your toothbrush at least every three months. Toothbrush manufacturers might say every 30 days. But what is the real deal? Is there a “right” answer to this question?

What Toothbrush Manufacturers Say

Most manufacturers recommend changing your toothbrush every three months. While many people may think this is merely to sell more toothbrushes, it is actually based on a variety of good reasons. While exploring this question, we discovered the following reasons for this recommendation:

  • Bristles become frayed and worn
  • Prevents bacteria from developing
  • Brushing is less effective
  • New brushes remove more plaque

Manufacturers of electric toothbrushes offer subscription services through distributors. This service sends members a new electric toothbrush head automatically. By using a service, there is no problem trying to remember how long you’ve been using your brush. You simply change to the new head when it arrives in the mail.

Some toothbrush manufacturers have employed “reminder bristles” in their designs. These special bristles are brightly colored when you buy your new toothbrush. As you use the brush, the color fades. Once the color is gone or significantly faded, it is time to change your brush.

What the American Dental Association Says

Both the American Dental Association (ADA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have guidelines for toothbrushes. The general recommendation is to replace your brush every three to four months. While that is almost the same as the manufacturer’s recommendation, there are additional reasons recommended by both organizations.


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In addition to regularly changing your toothbrush, you should also replace it under these conditions:

  • When anyone in your household has been sick, especially bacterial infections such as strep throat
  • For children who sometimes chew on or mash the heads of their toothbrushes
  • If anyone else uses your toothbrush
  • If you drop it on the floor or any other surface

The general rule should be — When in doubt, change it out.

General Care of Your Toothbrush

Your toothbrush can be a collector of all things icky. By developing a few simple habits, you can prevent many issues that can result in bacteria growth.

Don’t share toothbrushes. Even if rinsed well, brushes can have germs.

Rinse your brush thoroughly after use. Make sure you rinse all toothpaste residue from between bristles.

Store your toothbrush upright to air dry. Don’t allow toothbrushes to rest against one another.

Don’t use any of these to “deep clean” your toothbrush — Dishwasher, microwave, ultraviolet devices, disinfecting solutions, or mouthwash. These may damage your brush resulting in less effective brushing.

Avoid covering toothbrushes. If you use a travel container, your toothbrush should be allowed to dry before packing. If you must pack it damp, remove it and rinse it upon arrival at your destination.

Whether you have Invisalign, traditional braces, or no braces, maintaining a clean and healthy smile is important. Part of ensuring that is taking care of your toothbrush and switching it out regularly.

So… How Often Should You Replace Your Toothbrush?

At Pitner Orthodontics, we recommend that you replace your toothbrush every three months. We would also stress that replacing it after an illness is important to remove the risk of re-infecting yourself. Whether you use a manual toothbrush, an electric, or a battery-powered brush, changing it more often is the best practice.

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