The Truth About Charcoal Toothpaste
Though not as popular as it once was, activated charcoal is still a prevalent health fad. It’s found its way into supplements, hair products, and even toothpaste. However before jumping in headfirst it is best to understand what charcoal toothpaste can and cannot do for you. We’ll cover what you need to know about charcoal toothpaste in today’s post!
What is Charcoal Toothpaste?
Charcoal toothpaste is a type of toothpaste that includes activated charcoal, a very porous form of carbon. These pores draw in and absorb particles that are later rinsed out with the charcoal. It has been touted to bind to and remove bacteria, stains, and tartar, as well as been marketed as a teeth whitener and breath freshener.
Debunking Claims About Charcoal Toothpaste
Claim: Charcoal Toothpaste Freshens Breath
Though it does have a tendency to attract food particles and plaque, normal toothpaste also has the ability to do this and there is no significant evidence that it freshens breath or cleans better than traditional toothpaste.
Claim: Charcoal Toothpaste Removes Stains/Whitens Teeth
Due to its increased abrasiveness it may have the ability to remove extrinsic stains (stains on the surface of the teeth, above the enamel layer.) However using highly abrasive toothpaste can actually remove enamel and expose the more yellow dentin underneath in the long run.
Claim: Charcoal Toothpaste “Detoxifies” The Mouth
Though marketers love to tout this sort of language in their ads, activated charcoal does not “detoxify” the mouth in any way. It doesn’t remove “toxins” from the body. The gum and teeth, unlike your kidneys and liver, have no detoxifying effect on the body whatsoever. (Though periodontal disease and oral infection can create illnesses in other places in the body through the spread of bacteria.)
Cons to Charcoal Toothpaste
1: There is insufficient data to back up its safety and efficacy claims.
A 2017 study found that “The results of this literature review showed insufficient clinical and laboratory data to substantiate the safety and efficacy claims of charcoal and charcoal-based dentifrices.” and that “Dental clinicians should advise their patients to be cautious when using charcoal and charcoal-based dentifrices.”
2: It is too abrasive for daily use.
As mentioned earlier its highly abrasive qualities which allow it to remove stains also make it ill-suited for daily use. Regular use can wear down enamel and expose the dentin underneath. This can cause teeth to appear more yellow and also make teeth more sensitive.
3: There is typically no fluoride in these toothpastes.
Fluoride is proven to strengthen and protect the enamel of your teeth. Enamel is incredibly important in protecting against decay and cavities, and ensuring it’s long term health is critical to a proper dental care regimen.
4: Charcoal toothpaste may actually cause stains.
Though it can remove certain stains, it can build up in crevices or nooks and actually cause the teeth to have a greyish hue. Trading old stains for new ones with potentially unfavorable results.
5: It can significantly affect dental restorations.
Charcoal toothpaste can have a negative effect on dental restorations including crowns, bridges, veneers, fillings, and the All-on-4®. Charcoal particles can scrape and accumulate in and around restorations, leaving an unattractive black or gray outline.
So should you use charcoal toothpaste? Given existing evidence and lack of information probably not. This is not to say using it once or rarely will necessarily have a negative effect. If you enjoy using it occasionally there is no issue with that, just know that it will probably not give you the snow white smile you see in the commercials! If you are looking to whiten or brighten up your smile, contact one of our experts today!