What’s the Deal with Charcoal Toothpaste?

Activated charcoal is used for many purposes, such as face masks, deodorant, and removing toxins from the body. Recently, it has also become popular as a toothpaste. This rise in popularity is partly due to its detoxification properties. Many people claim that the charcoal can help whiten your teeth while also getting rid of harmful bacteria. As with other natural remedies, activated charcoal has it supporters and its skeptics. Here, Flintlock Dental will take a look at this type of toothpaste to see if it’s worth your while.

What is Activated Charcoal?

Activated charcoal is a black, powdery substance made from coconut shells, bone char, olive pits, coal, sawdust, and other organic materials. These items are heated at a high temperature, forming charcoal and “activating” the material by changing its internal structure to be much more porous than regular charcoal.

Activated charcoal has been used for many medicinal purposes throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. In many cases, it’s used to rid the body of excess drugs and toxins. It’s administered medically on a case-by-case basis, as it’s only effective at absorbing certain substances. It has mostly gained popularity for its teeth whitening properties in the last couple of decades.

Does Activated Charcoal Toothpaste Work?

With so many claims that charcoal toothpaste helps whiten teeth, let’s take a closer look to see just how well it actually works. In fact, there’s no current data that proves that activated charcoal whitens teeth better than any other method, though the makers of the toothpaste assert that users will see an improvement in tooth discoloration without using a bleaching agent. Medically, activated charcoal has been proven to help rid the body of unwanted substances, so it’s easy to see why those in favor of charcoal toothpaste claim it can help rid the mouth of bacteria and discoloration. However, since it’s used in only specific circumstances medically, there’s no guarantee that it actually removes oral bacteria.

Activated charcoal has been FDA approved for many health uses, but the American Dental Association has not yet approved its use for any dentistry purposes. A few studies have indicated that the use of charcoal toothpaste can absorb some plaque and other compounds that stain the teeth. By binding to particles in the mouth and being washed away, activated charcoal may help whiten the teeth. However, these studies have not proven that the charcoal method is any more effective than more common teeth whitening methods.

The Downsides

You may have seen an advertisement or YouTube video touting the dental benefits of activated charcoal, but it’s important to also be aware of the risks that come along with using this type of toothpaste. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons to avoid charcoal toothpaste:

  • Abrasiveness – Activated charcoal is very abrasive, and rubbing it against your teeth will ultimately damage the tooth enamel and the gum tissue.
  • Over-Absorption – The more activated charcoal that enters your body, the more it will absorb things your body needs, including medications you might be taking for other conditions.
  • No Fluoride – Charcoal toothpaste does not contain fluoride, which has been proven to strengthen tooth enamel and fight dental decay.
  • Unknown Effectiveness – Activated charcoal toothpaste’s ability to help whiten your teeth is still mostly unproven. It’s unknown how much is needed, how long you should use it, or how often, and whether or not the amount required outweighs the enamel loss due to its abrasiveness.

Should You Use Charcoal Toothpaste?

Any time you want to change up your dental routine, it’s best to consult with your dentist first. With no study yet done on the overall effectiveness of this toothpaste (and results that show detrimental abrasiveness), it’s best to use caution. Activated charcoal might seem like a more appealing option than bleaching treatments, but it also has its downsides. Don’t completely replace your everyday plaque and tarter fighting toothpaste with activated charcoal, or you will end up with more problems down the line. Fluoride has been well researched and proven to help your teeth and gums.

Using activated charcoal toothpaste in moderation may help whiten your teeth, but don’t overdo it. Let your dentist know that you’re trying this toothpaste out, so they can monitor your teeth and gums to help you make sure that your oral health is improving, not getting worse. Having a brighter smile now is not worth losing your enamel over!

Want more information on dentistry? Check out Flintlock Dental’s other blogs, such as this one that goes over the best ways to speed up your dental surgery recovery.

Dr. Wolfgang Schaller

Dr. Wolfgang Schaller was born in Germany, but he moved to Kansas City, Missouri in 1975 and has been here ever since. He loves this area! After graduating from Rockhurst High School, he went on to pursue extensive higher education. Dr. Schaller really values continuing education and training because that’s how he is able to be the most qualified that he can to care for you and your family’s dental needs!

Dr. Schaller completed his undergraduate studies at Kansas State University. He then obtained both an MS degree in biochemistry and his DDS degree at the University of Iowa. Dr. Schaller has worked as a DDS in a group office in Kansas and a solo practitioner in Independence for almost 10 years.

Studying at the University of Iowa was a great experience not only for education, but that’s also where Dr. Schaller met his wonderful wife, Monika. They moved to theNorthland area of Kansas City after graduation, where they now live with their two beautiful daughters, Natalie and Gabrielle. Monika Schaller works at North Kansas City Hospital as an oncology pharmacist.

In addition to dentistry and spending time with his family, Dr. Schaller’s other interests include gardening and photography. He looks forward to getting to know you and your family, too!