In the ideal world, we would all be able to go to the dentist at the first sign of a tooth infection to get professional treatment. But not all of us can afford a dentist and there are plenty of situations where you might not be able to get to a dentist for days or even weeks.
For these situations, you can use activated charcoal as a DIY tooth infection treatment.
*If you aren’t familiar with activated charcoal, please read:
- Difference between activated charcoal and charcoal
- Uses for activated charcoal
- How to make activated charcoal at home
- Best brands of activated charcoal
How to Use Activated Charcoal to Treat Tooth Infection
This activated charcoal treatment is for mild tooth infections, such as when you can see some pus around a tooth or have a tooth abscess. However, please know that tooth infections can spread throughout the body, leading to severe complications.
If you have symptoms like fever, increased heart rate, severe headache, or swelling so large that you can’t open your mouth, see a dentist!
1. Mix activated charcoal with water
To work well, activated charcoal needs to surround an area twice as big as the infected area. The activated charcoal also needs to be wet as it adsorbs better that way.
How much activated charcoal should you use?
It varies depending on the size of your teeth and how finely-ground the activated charcoal is. However, approximately 1/8 tsp. of activated charcoal per infected tooth is a good guideline to go by. Use equal amounts of water to make a paste.
2. Apply the charcoal paste to your tooth
You can’t just rub the activated charcoal paste on your infected tooth; it will get swished away by your saliva too quickly. Instead, you need to put the paste on something which can be applied to the area.
If the skin is unbroken (such as for abscesses):
You can use a cotton ball to apply the activated charcoal. Just rub the AC on a clean cotton ball, put it in your mouth, and bite on it gently to hold it in place.
If the skin is broken:
You don’t want little pieces of activated charcoal powder getting into your infection; it can be painful and irritate the gums. Instead, you should put the activated charcoal into a “packet” to hold it.
The best solution is to make the packet with wound dressing, as you would for a charcoal poultice. If you don’t have dressing, you can empty a teabag and fill it with the activated charcoal paste.
If your mouth is very swollen or you can’t open your mouth:
In this case, you can apply a large poultice to the outside of your mouth. You’ll have to wrap your entire lower face to keep the poultice in place. Once the swelling goes down, then you’ll be able to apply the activated charcoal directly to the tooth. But, if your swelling is this bad, you should really be seeing a doctor for the tooth infection and not be trying DIY treatment.
3. Leave in place
Leave the activated charcoal on the infected tooth area for at least 5 minutes. Afterwards, you’ll want to rinse your mouth with water. You can use sea salt water for rinsing as this will also help fight infection and swelling. Repeat numerous times per day.
4. Apply Other Treatments Afterwards
There are a lot of other natural remedies for treating tooth infections and dealing with the pain, such as clove oil and oregano oil. Do not apply these before or at the same time as the activated charcoal; the activated charcoal will just adsorb them. Instead, other treatments need to be applied afterwards.
At a Glance: Best Activated Charcoal Brands
- Best overall: Charcoal House Health powdered activated charcoal – Check on Amazon
- Best for topical use: Coal-Conut powdered activated charcoal – Check on Amazon
- Best on a budget: MultiVita hardwood activated charcoal powder – Check on Amazon
- Best granular: Envirosupply granular activated charcoal – Check on Amazon
- Best capsules: Nature’s Way activated charcoal capsules- Check on Amazon
Does activated charcoal really help tooth infections?
There are numerous studies which show that activated charcoal can help treat infections and reduce healing time on wounds. There is also ample anecdotal evidence that applying activated charcoal helps tooth infections. However, activated charcoal hasn’t been specifically studied for this purpose.
Can you use activated charcoal on your teeth if you are taking antibiotics or other medications?
Don’t use activated charcoal for a tooth infection if you are taking antibiotics. You will inevitably consume some of the activated charcoal. Once in your digestive tract, it will adsorb the antibiotics. If you are going to use activated charcoal on your teeth, at least wait several hours after taking your medications. *Of course, always check with your doctor first!
Can you reuse activated charcoal?
Do not reuse activated charcoal. Activated charcoal binds to pathogens (such as the bacteria causing your tooth infection). At a certain point, the activated charcoal will become saturated and unable to adsorb any more pathogens. It might even start to leach the bacteria back into your mouth! For this reason, you should use fresh activated charcoal for each treatment.
Will activated charcoal damage my teeth?
No, activated charcoal won’t damage your teeth when applied for a tooth infection. However, it is abrasive. You should be careful that you aren’t rubbing the activated charcoal over your teeth as it might scratch the enamel. It’s also wise to choose a very fine-grain activated charcoal whenever using it in your mouth.