One of the newest ways to whiten teeth makes use of two unlikely ingredients: charcoal and turmeric. One is black and the other is deep orange. So how exactly are these two substances supposed to make teeth whiter and do they even work?

What is Charcoal?

First, the kind of charcoal that is meant to be used for whitening teeth is activated charcoal. Activated charcoal is specially processed carbon that has small pores that increase the surface area. Its microporosity makes it excellent for removing toxins, primarily.

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a root bulb that is mainly used in cooking. It’s frequently found in Indian dishes, and is known to have anti-cancer effects via its main component, curcumin.

Does Activated Charcoal Whiten Teeth?

Experts say that yes, activated charcoal actually does work to whiten teeth. The way it works is that the activated charcoal alters the pH balance in your mouth, helping to support oral health. But that’s not how your teeth get whiter using activated charcoal. When you brush with toothpaste containing this black substance, the activated charcoal, with its microporous properties, removes microscopic particles and plaque that are discoloring your teeth. In other words, using activated charcoal is like powerwashing for your teeth.

Does Turmeric Whiten Teeth?

Turmeric stains almost everything it comes into contact with, including your hands. So why would anyone suggest you use it to whiten your teeth? Because it’s actually an age-old Indian secret, that’s why. In India, where turmeric is abundant, it’s quite common to clean the teeth with this orange substance. Turmeric has indeed been shown to visibly whiten teeth. In addition, turmeric’s anti-bacterial properties make it an effective agent to use for general oral hygiene, getting rid of mouth bacteria and keeping gums clean.

How to Use Activated Charcoal and Turmeric for Whitening Teeth?

There is no evidence that combining activated charcoal and turmeric has any additional benefits above simply using one or the other. So if you choose to try these, you should opt for the one you feel most comfortable with. To brush with activated charcoal, simply dip your wet toothbrush into the ground charcoal (approved for oral use), and brush as usual. To whiten with turmeric, you might find it more pleasant to mix a sprinkling of turmeric with a half teaspoon of coconut oil. Then brush as usual. With both options, rinse well and enjoy whiter teeth!