Charcoal toothpastes are the latest fad in toothpastes, but is there any evidence that they perform as advertised?! Ads on social media especially often claim that they brighten/whiten your teeth, detoxify your mouth and a whole host of other claimed benefits. Without providing any evidence to back their claims.
However mounting evidence is telling us that charcoal toothpaste could infact be harmful for your teeth, mouth and health in general:
Abrasiveness: A Recent Article in The Journal of Physics (Nature) showed that the abrasiveness of Charcoal when compared to toothpaste is significantly higher and in simulated brushing does noticeably more wear to the tooth surface. This is a significant concern as our teeth don’t repair/grow so any damage done is permanent.
Normal toothpastes are somewhat abrasive but this is part of their cleaning action to clean stain and plaque from the teeth and their abrasiveness is closely controlled and regulated.
Too much abrasiveness can lead to permanent tooh damage and sensitivity.
Whitening: The main allure of charcoal toothpaste seems to be that it gives you ‘natural whitening‘ . The only way this is could be occuring is through the abrasive action of the charcoal cleaning stains from the external surfaces of the tooth, as discussed above this comes with some definite downsides.
I would characterise the effect that charcoal and other ‘whitening‘ toothpastes have is akin to using an abrasive cleaner like Jiff on a surface, you might get a cleaner surface but it comes with a definite risk of damage.
When a dentist is talking about whitening we are generally talking about changing the intrinsic colour of the tooth, that generally comes from the dentine (the internal structure of the tooth below the enamel) which gives the tooth most of its yellow hue. Our whitening agents diffuse into the tooth structure and have their effect in the internal structure of the toot, and many studies have shown they dont do any percepitble damage to the surface or internal structure of the tooth 😊
What is in it?: An overarching issue with these charcoal toothpastes is that there seems to be no regulation of what goes into them. However a recent study reported that of those reviewed “One-third of the charcoal dentifrices (toothpastes) contained bentonite clay, and 1 contained betel leaves” both of these are known carcinogens.
Fluoride?!: Most of these Charcoal toothpastes market themselves as ‘Natural‘ which usually means they don’t contain fluoride. It has been shown time and time again that fluoride is amazingly protective to teeth and that “greater fluoride exposure and lowered caries prevalence, are considered to be one of the greatest accomplishments in the 20th century`s public dental health“.
It is almost crazy to use a toothpaste which doesn’t contain fluoride, the evidence is so clear about the benefits, those who spread fear about fluoride can never come up with actual evidence of significant harms.
So if not Charcoal then what?
Our advice on this is pretty simple:
Use a regular fluoride containing toothpaste (any will do, choose one you like the taste of and will use 👍)
Brush twice a day for 2 minutes and throw some flossing in there for good measure!
If you want to improve the colour of your teeth, see a dentist to assess if the colouring is coming from external stains on the tooth or the internal colour of the tooth. If its external stains often just a regular scale and clean will give you great results!
Otherwise dentist whitening may be a good option to change the colour of your teeth.
See your dentist regularly for checkups and cleans!
If you have any questions or need specific advice for your situation please call us on (03) 9826 1337 or email email@example.com