Charcoal Toothpaste: To cross over to the dark side or steer clear?

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We’ve all been there. You are standing in the oral hygiene aisle at the supermarket, scanning over the many different kinds of toothpaste on offer, trying to work out which one is best for your teeth.  

At the same time, you’re also probably trying to recall what your Dentist or Hygienist mentioned at the end of your last dental appointment. Was it a sensitive toothpaste or a whitening toothpaste? Perhaps it was one with standard fluoride or one with stannous fluoride? Or was it the foaming-agent free toothpaste? Or was it the charcoal toothpaste?

There are A LOT of toothpastes to choose from!  

There are also so many ever-changing “on-trend” products being endorsed by social media influencers on varying social media platforms. It is very easy to become overwhelmed when deciding on the toothpaste you would like to use. It’s a great example of when the internet can be foe, rather than friend. It can be a case of too much information and too many varying recommendations.  

One toothpaste “trend” with options from many different brands, is charcoal toothpaste. Let’s take a closer look at the Pros and Cons of this new “It Product” in the oral health world.  

What is Activated Charcoal?

Activated Charcoal is a form of carbon that has been treated to make its particles porous. The appeal of using charcoal in a product is that it binds to everything in its path. It is often used in hospitals and emergency rooms to treat patients suffering from poisoning in varying forms. When added to toothpastes it is suggested that it can bind to extrinsic stains, tartar/calculus, bacteria and viruses in the mouth. Sounds great right? Research has shown that using a Charcoal Toothpaste has the following pitfalls:  

  • Abrasive charcoal particles may remove surface stains but have no other tooth whitening abilities. These abrasive particles can cause abrasion to enamel and tooth coloured fillings resulting in tooth structure damage.
  • Charcoal particles may become wedged in the join between your tooth and white filling resulting in staining at the join.
  • Charcoal particles can become submerged under gum tissue causing gum irritation.
  • Many charcoal toothpastes don’t contain fluoride which dental professionals strongly recommend for tooth decay prevention.

There are still no proven scientific studies that show that charcoal has any real benefits to your oral health.

The only minor benefit of using a charcoal toothpaste is that it can help minimise staining but at the cost of abrading your tooth enamel. If you choose to use a charcoal toothpaste, then infrequent use is the safest option. We recommend using it only once a month at best.

What is our professional opinion?

  • Keep your toothpaste choice to WHITE!
  • Stains on your teeth that cannot be removed with toothbrushing and flossing should be removed by a dental professional with the correct equipment and products.
  • Stains can often be an indicator that you are due for an examination and professional scale clean.
  • Activated Charcoal Floss has some benefit in that you can see the whitish colour of your plaque bacteria being removed. This may prove to be more motivating to continue your flossing efforts.
  • Make sure your toothpaste contains fluoride to help prevent tooth decay.