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Charcoal in the form of a powder to whiten teeth

Oil Pulling Vs Activated Charcoal

3 MIN READ • 7th August 2016

Brushing your teeth with charcoal? Swilling coconut oil? Both have been hailed as the hottest new ways to make your pearly whites whiter and both boast tons of extra benefits – but which will you choose? We help you decide with a handy breakdown...

What’s the deal with oil pulling? Can it help to whiten your teeth?

There are some ancient beauty techniques that we just shouldn’t bring back. Rubbing men’s (gladiators to be precise) sweat on your face to make your complexion glow for example, or gargling urine to ‘sweeten’ your breath. But in between all the weird and wonderful home remedies, there are a few that are worth reviving, and oil pulling is one of them.

How it works:

An ancient oral therapy originating from India, the technique involves swilling a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth for 20 minutes. As you swish, any harmful bacteria and toxins from your mouth stick to the oil and dissolve into it. You then spit this out, leaving you with better breath and whiter teeth.

Additional benefits:

While recent studies have shown that oil pulling helps against oral issues such as plaque, gingivitis and the microorganisms that cause bad breath, it’s also said to improve your overall health.

Some of the reported benefits include aiding sleep problems, alleviating headaches and helping skin issues such as acne and psoriasis. It’s also believed to improve digestion, balance hormones and sugar levels, boost energy, clear sinuses and moisturise skin. Wow.

Who’s doing it:

Actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Shailene Woodley both swear by the practice.

Where you can find it:

As the name suggests, all you need for oil pulling is oil. While sesame or sunflower will work in the same way, coconut is the best choice as it’s been shown to prevent tooth decay and has strong anti-bacterial properties. You can find coconut oil in most supermarkets, but as it becomes a solid below 23 celsius, it can be tricky to swill effectively. If you don’t mind splashing out a bit, try one of the natural health products based on the oil pulling method, such as Cocowhite, where dosages come packaged up nicely and are even available in different flavours. Find out more at

Top tip:

When you’re not used to doing it, 20 minutes of swilling oil is a long old time, so start with five minutes every morning. The longer you pull, the more bacteria you remove though, so try to slowly build your time up.

What’s the deal with activated charcoal?

“Charcoal in your mouth? Ew! Why?” is the general response you’ll get when you try to tell someone that the latest health revelation is the black powdery stuff you use to fire up the barbecue each summer. But it’s true my friends – for white teeth it’s time to head to black, and thanks to its numerous health benefits, we suspect activated charcoal is here to stay.

How it works:

Firstly, what’s the difference between activated charcoal and plain old charcoal? In short, activated charcoal is the common stuff which has been reheated and oxidised to give it medicinal properties. Brush your teeth with it and activated charcoal’s natural adhesive properties will bind with staining impurities such as coffee, tea and wine and remove them when you spit it out.

Additional benefits:

Brushing your teeth with activated charcoal is only going to help your teeth, but eating it (stay with us) boasts a whole wealth of other benefits, thanks to the internal spaces created within the charcoal during oxidisation. These pores help to trap toxins and stop them from being absorbed into your body, meaning it can reportedly settle upset stomachs, lower cholesterol levels, treat poisonings and even prevent hangovers!

Who’s doing it:

There are many wellness bloggers who fully endorse activated charcoal’s ability to whiten teeth and remove bacteria, including Wellness Mama, and Girls Aloud’s Sarah Harding has made it a staple supplement within her diet.

Where you can find it:

There’s no need to start scraping coal remnants from your grill (in fact, you really shouldn’t) because activated charcoal is available in the form of pills and powders. It also comes within toothpastes and mouthwashes, which is ideal because brushing your teeth with powder can get seriously messy. Head to Superdrug to pick up Perfect White Black Mouthwash by The Beverly Hills Formula – the world’s first activated charcoal mouthwash!

Top tip:

Because the charcoal can be gritty, be careful not to rub it on your teeth too hard – you don’t want to damage the enamel. Be sure to always follow the advice on the packet.

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