Charcoal Toothpaste: What Is It?
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Charcoal Toothpaste: What Is It?

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Everyone loves a burger or some grilled vegetables, especially hot off the charcoal grill. You may be surprised to know that charcoal has quite a few uses besides cooking, and it is even showing up in toothpaste. Dental researchers and toothbrushers worldwide are starting to give charcoal toothpaste a try.

What Is Activated Charcoal?

Cooking charcoal (or even the kind used for artist's pencils) is made by slow-burning natural materials, such as wood, peat, or coconut shells. Activated charcoal is created for medical purposes by heating normal charcoal in the absence of oxygen, causing it to become highly absorbent. This is why, according to nutritionists, activated charcoal can effectively absorb and trap toxic chemicals, making it part of the standard treatment for accidental poisonings.

In addition, there are some claims that activated charcoal can alleviate intestinal gas, lower cholesterol levels, prevent hangovers (although charcoal doesn't readily absorb alcohol) and help regulate bile flow problems (called cholestasis) during pregnancy. However, Metro notes that activated charcoal's absorbent properties mean it can interfere with other medications you take, for example hormonal birth control, and render them ineffective.

Using charcoal as a teeth-cleaning method is nothing new. The ancient Romans brushed with everything from charcoal to tree bark, and the black powder can be found in a toothpaste recipe in a 19th century English homemaker's guide.

The last decade has seen a re-emergence of charcoal-based toothpastes with claims of whitening, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and breath freshening properties. According to the Oral Health Foundation more research is needed to confidently establish the safety and effectiveness of charcoal pastes.

Is Charcoal Toothpaste Right for You?

When you think about putting black toothpaste on your toothbrush, don't worry about the taste: you aren't brushing with chunks from your barbecue. It may be black, but the charcoal incorporated into the paste is closer to the soft consistency of bicarbonate of soda. Many charcoal toothpastes contain flavouring agents, just like any other whitening toothpaste. According to studies, many toothpastes also contain bentonite clay (an allegedly detoxifying ingredient) or, more rarely, betel leaves (a plant chewed as a stimulant in many parts of Asia).

If you're someone who is prone to tooth decay, be aware that not all of these toothpastes will contain fluoride. Since most dentists want their patients to use fluoride in some form, your dentist may recommend a fluoride rinse to help strengthen your enamel.

Is charcoal toothpaste a fad or here to stay? Research on its properties is still emerging, but many people are finding that charcoal toothpaste is worth a try.

Does Charcoal Toothpaste Whiten Teeth?

Many of us are chasing a whiter smile, and while the pros and cons of activated charcoal toothpaste still need to be researched further, some benefits of using it can include removing surface stains on your teeth, improving bad breath and preventing stains after professional teeth cleaning. However, there’s not enough evidence yet to prove it has any effect on the deeper staining or yellowing that occurs below the tooth enamel. To whiten teeth properly, the toothpaste has to work on the surface stains as well as the deeper staining caused by ageing, medications, medical conditions or too much fluoride. [kw1]

Is Charcoal Toothpaste Safe?

While charcoal toothpaste may be able to help with surface tooth stains, there are also some disadvantages to think about before adopting this new health trend:

  • Charcoal can be abrasive and may end up damaging your tooth enamel, leaving you with teeth that are more yellow rather than less.
  • Damaged enamel can leave you more susceptible to tooth decay and cavities.
  • Everyday use can leave you with sensitive teeth.
  • Most charcoal-based toothpastes don’t contain fluoride which helps to protect your teeth against decay.
  • In some cases, activated charcoal toothpaste can leave your teeth with a grey tinge instead of making them whiter!
  • There’s not enough evidence to know the results of long-term use of charcoal toothpaste on veneers, bridges or crowns. [kw2]

Alternatives to Charcoal Toothpaste

While a bit more evidence is needed on charcoal toothpaste benefits, there are many safe and effective options you can use for teeth whitening in the meantime!

Professional bleaching or laser treatments are available through dentists, and there are many effective at-home treatments if you’d rather give whitening a go from the comfort of your home! We offer a range of teeth whitening products that are affordable and let you achieve great results gradually, including our Overnight Whitening Pen, LED Whitening Kit and toothpaste like our Max White Ultimate Radiance Toothpaste. Whitening your teeth while sleeping or relaxing on the sofa sounds like our kind of multitasking!




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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.