About Charcoal Toothpaste
In the “natural” or “alternative remedy” section of the stores you can now find products like charcoal toothpastes and charcoal powders as an alternative to modern society’s toothpastes. More than ever, we are now starting to see charcoal-based products in the regular dental products section as mainstream brands tout the natural whitening properties of charcoal.
What is charcoal?
Charcoal is a black carbon-based material made from the heating of coal, wood, nut shells, or husks. Charcoal powder for dental products is usually milled to a fine powder. The coarseness and abrasiveness of the charcoal powder can vary.
History of charcoal for oral use
The use of ash and charcoal for teeth dates back to ancient Greece. The abrasive property of charcoal was beneficial for removing extrinsic stains from teeth and for absorbing bad odors.
What is the research behind charcoal dental products?
A peer-reviewed article by the British Dental Journal found that there was no supporting evidence for the cosmetic, whitening, or detox claims of charcoal toothpastes1. In fact, aggressive brushing with charcoal products was found to damage the enamel surface of the tooth by roughening it and removing the lustre/shine. There were no whitening effects seen with charcoal toothpastes, and the results were similar to using a regular non-fluoride toothpaste.
Based on the lack of evidence supporting superior benefits of charcoal toothpaste, dental professionals do not generally support their use. If patients prefer to use a charcoal product, we do recommend to choose one that contains fluoride. We also recommend against charcoal powder which requires you to dip your toothbrush into the jar because this is unhygienic!
- Greenwall, L. H., Greenwall-Cohen, J., & Wilson, N. H. F. (2019). Charcoal-containing dentifrices. British Dental Journal, 226(9), 697–700. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-019-0232-8