Is using charcoal toothpaste on your teeth a good idea?

Should it come as a surprise that charcoal toothpaste may not whiten teeth and may cause permanent damage to tooth enamel?

Who would have imagined that charcoal (yes, the sooty, abrasive stuff made from burned wood) is in popular toothpastes sold all around America?

Popular brand names such as Colgate-Palmolive, and Tom’s of Maine, are selling charcoal toothpaste.

Adding charcoal powder to toothpaste is a successful marketing strategy – but does scientific evidence prove that it is safe or beneficial for consumers’ teeth?

Six key points from Journal of the American Dental Association articles are below:

  • “The results of this literature review showed insufficient clinical and laboratory data to substantiate the safety and efficacy claims of charcoal and charcoal based dentifrices.” Brooks, J, Bashirelhari, N., Reynolds, M. 2017, “Charcoal and Charcoal-Based Dentifrices: A literature review,” The Journal of the American Dental Association, vol. 148(9): p. 661.
  • [There are] “potential harmful consequences of charcoal-based oral products and employment of advertising jargon.”  Brooks, J, Bashirelhari, N., Reynolds, M. 2017, “More on charcoal and charcoal-based dentifrices.” The Journal of the American Dental Association, vol. 148(11) p. 785.
  • “To date, there have been no scientific studies published proving the effectiveness of charcoal toothpastes in tooth whitening, oral hygiene and any claimed preventative and halitosis-controlling effects.” Greenwall, L., Wilson, N. 2017, “Charcoal toothpastes: what we know so far.” Clinical Pharmacist, August 2017, Vol 9, No 8, online, p. 1.
  • “There is no evidence that the use of charcoal toothpaste has an effect on intrinsic (internal) staining of teeth or on intrinsic whitening of the teeth.” Id.
  • “The use of charcoal in toothpaste was introduced some years ago because of the property of charcoal for absorbing gases, coloring matter, etc.  That charcoal in a dentifrice absorbs mouth odors under conditions of dentifricial use remains to be experimentally verified. Clinical experiences are recorded in which the particles of the charcoal became imbedded in the gum tissue and produced a bluish line near the margin, which is removable only by surgical means.  No evidence was presented to the Council to show that Kramer’s Original Charcoal Dental Cream is free from these objections. Unless evidence to cause a revision of the foregoing is submitted, the Council cannot admit Kramer’s Original Charcoal Dental Cream to the A.D.R.,  because it is a dentifrice intended for daily use that contains charcoal, a potentially harmful substance.” Gordon, S. 1932, “Kramer’s Original Charcoal Dental Cream—not Acceptable for A.D.R.” The Journal of the American Dental Association, vol. 19(5) pp 868-869.

Have you tried charcoal toothpaste? Are you dissatisfied with the results?

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