Is Charcoal Toothpaste Safe?

There are many different types of toothpastes appearing on drugstore and grocery shelves and it seems that there are always new toothpastes being marketed.  One of the latest is charcoal infused toothpastes. Often these toothpastes are marketed as containing teeth whitening agents and claim to remove staining from teeth and even whiten teeth. These charcoal toothpastes come in a variety of forms, usually as a powder, tablet or paste. 

Recently, patients at our Calgary dental clinic have been asking whether these products are safe and effective to use and whether our Calgary dentist recommends their use.  

Are Charcoal Toothpastes Safe?

Charcoal toothpastes are often abrasive, therefore if they are used regularly, there may be a risk that they may wear and damage your enamel.

According to a literature review in the Journal of the American Dental Association from September 2017, there is currently “insufficient clinical and laboratory data to substantiate the safety and efficacy claims of charcoal and charcoal-based” toothpastes.  Further, in early 2019, a review in the British Dental Journal concluded that charcoal provides little protection against tooth decay, and further indicated that there is limited scientific evidence to support other health claims that are often attributed to activated carbon.

Can Charcoal Toothpastes Whiten Your Teeth?

Because of the abrasive quality of activated charcoal, charcoal toothpastes can actually be effective in removing surface staining from teeth, which does make your teeth appear brighter without actually using a tooth whitening product.  However, if you have deeper staining, you will need to use a tooth whitening product.  Our Calgary dental office recommends using a professional tooth whitening product so that your Calgary dentist can supervise its use and provide you with a concentration of the active ingredient for tooth whitening that cannot be purchased over the counter.

In light of this research, our Calgary dentist recommends that charcoal infused toothpastes and other products should be used cautiously and should not regularly replace a toothpaste validated by the Canadian Dental Association.  If you wish to try a charcoal toothpaste, brush very gently and use sparingly.  Our Calgary dentist further strongly recommends that a toothpaste containing fluoride, which helps to prevent tooth decay, be used for adults and for children 3 to 6 years of age who are able to brush their teeth without swallowing the toothpaste.  Your dentist should be consulted regarding the use of fluoridated toothpastes for children younger than 3 years of age.

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