Charcoal toothpaste, marketed as a natural teeth whitener, has been increasing in popularity in recent years. Charcoal toothpastes are said to be better at whitening teeth, removing stains, and avoiding bad breath than traditional toothpastes. However, a new review by British dentists shows that charcoal toothpastes could be doing your teeth more harm than good.
On the surface, a charcoal-based toothpaste makes sense. Historically, charcoal has been used all over the world as a health aid. Activated charcoal is currently used in the treatment of poisonings, as the charcoal prevents the poison from reaching the bloodstream through the gut. Forms of charcoal have also been used to alleviate digestive problems and to clean the teeth.
Lead author of the study, Dr. Linda Greenwall, a member of the British Dental Bleaching Society, and her team examined 50 different charcoal toothpastes for their review. Eight of those contained fluoride, a component essential for battling tooth decay, but it was probably ineffective because charcoal inactivates fluoride. The results of the review have been published in the British Dental Journal.
According to the results of the review, none of the most common claims of benefits associated with the use of charcoal toothpaste is true. None contained a sufficient amount of bleaching agent to have whitening and stain removing properties. In fact, they wrote that charcoal is an extremely abrasive ingredient which permanently damages the outer layer of the enamel surface, increasing the chances of discoloration.
The more a charcoal toothpaste is used, the more roughened the outside surface of the tooth will become. Over time, the tooth is less likely to shine and whiten. The authors behind the paper were unable to find any supporting evidence showing that these products are any better at cleaning and whitening teeth than other modern toothpastes.