The Truth About Charcoal Toothpaste

 

Charcoal toothpaste is the latest dental trend. But does it really deliver whitening results?

What is charcoal toothpaste and how might it be beneficial to your teeth?

Charcoal is a product of burning wood, peat, coconut shells, or other organic materials.  It has been used throughout the ages for medicinal purposes including cleansing the mouth.  Charcoal toothpaste is supposedly made of “activated charcoal” which has been treated, usually by reheating in the presence of a gas, to make it more porous to absorb and trap various chemicals, which is why it is used to treat accidental poisoning.

Proponents and marketers of charcoal toothpaste claim the ability to absorb toxic substances in the mouth and also to whiten teeth.  To date, there is no reputable clinical research substantiating these claims.  Some of the claims such as the ability to whiten teeth may function by removing external or extrinsic surface staining, but charcoal cannot remove the intrinsic staining the way peroxide based dental bleaching does.

Various other ingredients are added to the charcoal such as bentonite clay, betel leaves, flavoring agents and other ingredients.

Are there any dental safety concerns about using charcoal toothpaste?

These charcoal products are uncontrolled by any agency or evaluated for safety and efficacy by The American Dental Association.  Many of the products may be too abrasive for regular use and can possibly remove the enamel outside of the teeth or damage porcelain restorations such as veneers or crowns.  This abrasion can leave the teeth dull and even darker due to the underlying dentin showing through, and can also leave the teeth more temperature sensitive.

The “wild west” nature of charcoal toothpaste can also result in other additives that are potentially very harmful.  There is also some concern that activated charcoal may interfere with medications taken orally rendering them less effective.

Do you personally recommend charcoal toothpaste to your patients?  

I do not recommend charcoal toothpaste for all the reasons I have mentioned.  Our practice is a very scientifically based dental practice.   Besides being in private practice, I am also an Associate Clinical Professor at NYU College of Dentistry.   We teach our students that the procedures and products we use must be supported by scientifically valid clinical studies.  Unregulated medicaments of questionable value and unknown abrasiveness and other attributes do not have any place in clinical practice.  Not only does charcoal toothpaste not meet the criteria that I would use to recommend them,  they also may not have the fluoride or other preventive components that I feel are important in preventing dental disease.

In addition, they may also be too abrasive and damaging to teeth and restorative material.

For more information on charcoal toothpaste, click here to read my full interview in Prevention Magazine “Is Charcoal Toothpaste The Answer To Whiter Teeth?”

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  • Advanced Dentistry of Westchester
  • Kenneth S. Magid, DDS, FICD
  • Sabrina Magid-Katz, DMD

  • 163 Halstead Ave. • Harrison, NY 10528
  • (914) 835-0542
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