08 Apr Does Charcoal Toothpaste Really Work?
Over the past few years, charcoal-based beauty and health care products have gained in popularity. In skincare products, activated charcoal has been touted for its ability to tackle toxins that cause acne and blackheads, giving skin a radiant look. In toothpaste, activated charcoal is said to whiten teeth, decrease cavity risk, and tackle bad breath. What is known about charcoal toothpaste and does it really work?
What is Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal is the residue left over after slowly heating high-carbon materials like coconut shells, peat, bone char, olive pits, or sawdust. It is an exceptionally porous product said to trap toxins and absorb chemicals. In skincare, charcoal-infused products are marketed as an exfoliant to clear clogged pores. In food products, activated charcoal is promoted as helping the body flush out toxins for better health. Both claims are wrought with controversy as to the efficacy and safety. This concern rings true in toothpaste.
Is Charcoal Toothpaste Better for You?
Activated charcoal toothpaste is said to cling to teeth better than non-charcoal toothpaste, removing tricky stains like coffee and wine better. While some individuals have reported seeing faster whitening, a study conducted by the National Institute of Health in 2017 showed charcoal toothpaste was less effective than peroxide-containing toothpaste for whitening. Other concerns of charcoal toothpaste include:
- Charcoal Can Wear Down Enamel – Activated charcoal is an abrasive material that can wear down enamel. Once worn down, enamel cannot be replaced, exposing teeth to a host of germs our mouth encounters every day. The abrasive particles of charcoal toothpaste may also penetrate gums causing irritation and premature wear.
- Charcoal Does Not Contain Fluoride – Most charcoal toothpastes do not contain fluoride, the active ingredient added to other kinds of toothpaste to help prevent tooth decay. In addition to the abrasive nature of charcoal toothpaste, the omission of fluoride leaves teeth more vulnerable to cavities.
- Charcoal May Stain Teeth – Although charcoal toothpaste has been claimed to whiten teeth faster, the small particles possibly can get caught in the tiny crevices of teeth causing teeth to stain. This is especially true in older individuals and persons where the enamel is already worn thin.
As concluded in a review article by Brooks in the Journal of American Dental Association in 2017, there is insufficient clinical and laboratory data to substantiate the safety and efficacy claims of charcoal and charcoal-based toothpaste. Larger-scale and well-designed studies are needed to establish conclusive evidence. We are often tempted to try new products out of curiosity. But new does not always mean better and in some cases, can do more harm. If you’re interested in charcoal toothpaste for whitening, ask us about our in-office ZOOM whitening method for faster, brighter, long-term results.
At Imperial Dental Center, our goal is to provide the best oral care to our patients and to provide information on products and processes to help you choose what is right for your health. Call our office at (281) 265-3567 or go online to schedule an appointment.
Dr. Dragana Angelova
We Love to See You Smile