The Truth Behind Charcoal Toothpaste
If you’ve been looking for a new way to whiten your teeth, you may have noticed that charcoal toothpaste has been popping up in the checkout aisle at your local drugstore. Not only that, but it’s been found in over-the-counter face washes, creams, and even ice cream lately.
The idea behind using it in toothpaste it seems pretty simple: Charcoal has long been used to detoxify the body, so why would it not work on our pearly whites?
However, more and more studies have shown that the cons of using charcoal toothpaste outweigh any pros. So this begs the question — is charcoal toothpaste good?
In this article, we’ll take a look at the facts so you can make an educated decision for yourself. Using charcoal toothpaste may not be worth your time (and money) after all. So before you buy into the fad of charcoal toothpaste, here’s what you should know about it:
What is Charcoal Toothpaste?
First things first. Before we get into the truth behind charcoal toothpaste, let’s take a look at what it is exactly. Charcoal toothpaste is a dental product that contains activated charcoal, which has been trending because of its whitening properties.
So, how is it made? Activated charcoal is created by burning waste products (like coconut shells) at high temperatures in an oxygen-free environment. This allows it to become highly absorbent, while also retaining its porous structure. It’s then added to popular dental products like toothpaste.
Cons of Using Charcoal Toothpaste:
As we mentioned before, any benefits that charcoal toothpaste has are greatly outweighed by the consequences that come with using it daily. Let’s take a look at the cons of using charcoal toothpaste:
1. It damages the enamel on your teeth.
One of the biggest charcoal toothpaste cons is its abrasiveness. While people are commonly drawn to charcoal for its teeth-whitening properties, they don’t realize is that it also wears down the enamel on your teeth over time. It’s far too abrasive for daily use, especially when it comes to brushing two times per day as the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends.
When your enamel is weakened, it’s particularly dangerous because it makes your teeth prone to cavities, stains, sensitivity, and even cracking. It can even cause gum recession, causing your gum line to peel away from the tooth.
Once the enamel is gone, it unfortunately doesn’t come back. This can lead to a lifetime of dental issues. Poor oral health makes you prone to bacterial infections, which can even cause heart problems. Without properly taking care of your teeth, it can lead to overall health problems down the line.
2. It doesn’t remove stains below tooth enamel.
Another big con is that charcoal toothpaste cannot get rid of stains below the enamel on your teeth—it only removes surface stains like coffee or wine (although some brands claim otherwise). This defeats the whole purpose of why people start using it in the first place, as many brands claim it can draw deep stains out of the teeth entirely.
This just goes to show that using charcoal for whitening isn’t a long-term solution. It works on a short-term basis only—similar to seeing your dentist for a teeth cleaning.
3. It can actually stain your teeth.
While most people use charcoal for whitening, you may not have known that it can actually stain your teeth.
If you’ve ever used charcoal toothpaste, you probably remember the dark black color that came off on your brush and stained your sink. If it stains everything it touches, just imagine what it can do to your teeth. It can slide into the tiny cracks in your teeth—and it’s almost impossible to remove once it does.
4. It doesn’t prevent cavities or tooth decay.
The primary benefit of using traditional fluoride toothpaste is that it protects your teeth. Charcoal toothpaste does not contain fluoride, which ultimately can lead to cavities and eventually decay. Not using fluoride in your day-to-day routine can lead to cavities and eventually tooth decay.
What’s more, the abrasive nature of charcoal itself can wear away enamel over time, causing your teeth to become more porous and more susceptible to bacteria that cause cavities. While some brands claim that activated charcoal may help with some minor oral health problems like gingivitis or bad breath—and there are even some anecdotal claims that it helps gum issues—there’s no evidence that it does anything beyond what regular brushing does on its own (except maybe pick up surface-level coffee stains).
Lastly, if you’re someone who doesn’t take good care of your oral health by brushing regularly and flossing every day, then this product definitely isn’t right for you. It can make poor oral health even worse by removing protective layers on your teeth when used improperly (and don’t forget about tongue health!).
5. It’s too harsh for sensitive teeth.
Charcoal may remove some plaque and buildup from your teeth, but its harshness can lead to irritation and sores on the tongue or gums. This can result in increased sensitivity to hot and cold foods or drinks. If you have sensitive teeth, charcoal toothpaste will be too abrasive for you. The same can be said for young kids who try charcoal for whitening or simply use it for daily use.
6. It may stain dental restorations or older teeth.
Do you have dental restorations? Some folks with dental work like crowns, caps, veneers, and fillings have reported that charcoal toothpaste left black or grey outlines on their restorations. This can be really unsightly and even uncomfortable.
It’s also important to note that it can also cause staining on new teeth as well as older ones. You’re more prone to this risk if you use it frequently or have minor cracks in your teeth. If you’re concerned about this happening to you, it’s best to avoid charcoal toothpaste altogether.
7. It doesn’t “detoxify” the mouth.
While it’s true that activated charcoal does have some “detoxifying” properties when it comes to absorbing chemicals and toxins in the digestive tract, it doesn’t absorb any of these things from your mouth (or anywhere else in the body). In fact, there’s no evidence that using toothpaste with activated charcoal actually helps remove any toxins at all!
8. The long-term effects are unknown.
Before you go out and purchase charcoal toothpaste, remember that there have been no long-term studies proving its effectiveness. As of now, there is no data indicating how well charcoal toothpaste works over the course of years or even months. The only studies that have been conducted on it are short-term and show mixed results.
For example, one study found that charcoal toothpaste was more effective than a regular toothpaste at removing plaque from teeth after five days of use. However, another study found that black charcoal made a person’s mouth feel dryer after using it for four weeks than regular toothpaste did (the fluoride toothpaste being the control).
The big issue here is that you might be trading one problem for another. Your teeth may be whiter but your gums could become irritated or bleed more easily. Charcoal may allow your teeth and gums to receive less oxygen, which is due to the tightness of the formula’s paste consistency.
Alternatives to Whitening Teeth with Charcoal Toothpaste
Fluoride is a mineral that’s naturally present in water and other foods, and it can help prevent tooth decay by strengthening teeth and promoting the remineralization of tooth enamel.
It is safe when used properly; however, overexposure may cause dental fluorosis (mottled or stained teeth). The ADA recommends using only products containing 0.05% sodium fluoride or lower as part of an effective oral hygiene routine that includes brushing twice per day with a soft-bristled brush for two minutes each time—even if you already have healthy-looking teeth!
Although charcoal toothpaste has received a lot of media attention recently, it doesn’t make it a good option for the health of your teeth. In fact, there is no research to support whether it’s effective or even safe. The cons of using charcoal toothpaste greatly outweigh any benefit it may provide. The truth is out!