Back to Africa Check

No, mixture of charcoal, lemon and coffee won’t whiten teeth. See a dentist instead

IN SHORT: Ignore the claim that a combination of charcoal, coffee and lemon will whiten your teeth. It could actually lead to enamel erosion and tooth decay.

“How I whitened my teeth with charcoal mixture,” reads the caption of a video posted on Facebook. 

The video claims that a mixture of coffee, lemon and charcoal can whiten teeth. The video advises using the combination twice daily for six weeks for a bright smile, fresh breath and to remove bacteria.

Discoloration of your teeth can be caused by many things, including smoking, ageing, injury and certain illnesses. 

The video has garnered over 20,000 likes, 5,300 shares and 240 comments.

It has been reposted here and here.

But can you really whiten your teeth with the recommended combination? We investigated.

Nothing but the facts

Get a weekly dose of facts delivered straight to your inbox.

TeethWhiten_False

Mixture can damage the teeth

Regular consumption of an intensely coloured beverage, such as coffee, can lead to staining of teeth. If consumed daily, coffee can penetrate the enamel and cause stains on the dentin, which can get worse over time. 

In addition, coffee is often drunk with sugar or flavoured syrups, which can contribute to plaque build-up and eventual tooth decay if left unchecked.

Using charcoal to whiten teeth can pose risks due to its abrasive nature, which can damage tooth enamel over time. The enamel is the outermost layer of the tooth and is the hardest tissue in the body.

Charcoal residue left behind may prompt excessive brushing, causing further harm. 

Using lemon to whiten teeth can cause enamel erosion due to its high acidity, resulting in tooth sensitivity and a yellowish appearance of exposed dentin.

Contrary to what is claimed in the video, the combination of charcoal, lemon, and coffee could lead to enamel erosion, tooth decay and staining.

Arotiba Godwin, professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery in the faculty of dental sciences at the University of Lagos in Nigeria, has dismissed claims that the mixture can whiten teeth.

“This is false and no research has proven that this is an effective way to treat tooth discoloration. It is unsafe and the ingredients have a high potential for tooth damage. It is also not as effective as having your teeth whitened by a dentist.”

He says it is better to visit a qualified dentist for a proper teeth-whitening procedure.

Africa Check has also fact-checked similar claims about teeth whitening and toothache cures here, here and here. It is advisable to see a dentist if you are concerned about your oral health.

Republish our content for free

We believe that everyone needs the facts.

You can republish the text of this article free of charge, both online and in print. However, we ask that you pay attention to these simple guidelines. In a nutshell:

1. Do not include images, as in most cases we do not own the copyright.

2. Please do not edit the article.

3. Make sure you credit "Africa Check" in the byline and don't forget to mention that the article was originally published on africacheck.org.

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”, “altered”, “partly false” or “missing context”. This could have serious consequences. What do you do?

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Meta's third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
limit: 600 characters

Want to keep reading our fact-checks?

We will never charge you for verified, reliable information. Help us keep it that way by supporting our work.

Become a newsletter subscriber

Support independent fact-checking in Africa.