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Charcoal toothbrushes have soft bristles infused with activated charcoal.
Proponents of charcoal toothbrushes claim they whiten teeth, give you fresher breath, and even reduce bacteria. However, many dental professionals still hesitate to recommend them.
Preliminary studies show that charcoal toothbrushes may do better than regular toothbrushes at plaque removal and reducing bacteria count.1, 2 However, the claims that they can whiten your teeth and freshen your breath remain unsubstantiated.
Activated charcoal has been used for dental purposes for centuries. It’s a porous version of charcoal that works like a sponge and is commonly used to treat poisonings, hangovers, and even high cholesterol.3
“Charcoal used in dentistry has existed since ancient Greece,” says resident expert and licensed dentist Dr. Nandita Lilly. “Charcoal is an eco-friendly, herbal, and natural remedy.”
This may explain why many people use charcoal in their oral hygiene routines.
Despite the long-term use of activated charcoal in dentistry, Dr. Lilly does not believe dentists should recommend charcoal toothbrushes.
“I believe that, although charcoal’s attributes are promising, there is currently insufficient scientific evidence to substantiate the cosmetic and health benefits of charcoal,” she says.
Dr. Lilly’s viewpoint is typical of the dental industry. They don’t outright oppose using charcoal toothbrushes but would prefer to see more scientific evidence to support their use.
Learn about the safest ways to whiten your teeth.
Early research shows that charcoal may have antimicrobial and plaque-controlling properties, but it hasn’t been proven whether or not it’s safe to use regularly.
There is currently not enough evidence to support using charcoal toothbrushes over other kinds of brushes. According to the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA), there is no evidence showing that charcoal dental products are safe or effective.4
You should instead consider products that have the ADA Seal of Acceptance.5
If you’re considering using a charcoal toothbrush, you should understand the pros and cons. It can help you identify which purported benefits may be real and which may be marketing tactics.
Here are some of the possible benefits of charcoal toothbrushes:
Most charcoal toothbrushes are made of all-natural materials. They typically have a wooden handle, often bamboo.
People who prefer all-natural products may choose charcoal toothbrushes over traditional ones.
Activated charcoal may absorb substances that stain teeth, such as chemicals in coffee or wine. By doing so, charcoal toothbrushes may be able to remove or prevent stains and whiten teeth.
However, there are no studies to support the claim that charcoal can whiten teeth.6
Research has proven that charcoal has antibacterial properties, which extends to charcoal toothbrushes.
A study of 50 participants used a charcoal toothbrush and a standard toothbrush for a week each. They found that the charcoal toothbrushes retained around half the bacteria that regular toothbrushes retained.2
These low levels of bacteria mean that charcoal toothbrushes could help freshen breath and aid in plaque removal better than standard toothbrushes.
Here are some downsides of charcoal toothbrushes:
“Charcoal is an abrasive material and can cause cavities by damaging the enamel and making it more prone to decay,” says Dr. Lilly.
Enamel is not formed of living cells, so it cannot repair itself when the surface is worn away.6 Using a charcoal toothbrush may make your teeth vulnerable to decay.
As with all charcoal products, charcoal toothbrushes may leave a black residue. This can happen when the bristles wear, and the charcoal leaks out.
Charcoal can stain your teeth, face, the sink, and any fabrics it comes into contact with. However, charcoal toothbrushes are typically less messy than other charcoal products, such as powder, toothpaste, or tabs.
Certain people should not use any products containing activated charcoal, including people who:
Charcoal can counteract the effects of oral medication. If you accidentally swallow it, your birth control or other medications may stop working.
As well as charcoal-infused toothbrushes, there are a variety of other activated charcoal products available, including:
See NewMouth’s top 10 teeth whitening products of 2022.
Charcoal toothbrushes have bristles infused with activated charcoal. Some claim they offer benefits like whiter teeth, fresher breath, and reduced bacterial growth.
Scientific research has shown that charcoal can reduce the number of oral bacteria and control plaque. However, there’s no evidence to prove that it offers other purported benefits. It’s also unclear whether it is safe or more effective than other dental products.
Most dentists don’t recommend using charcoal toothbrushes at this time. More evidence is needed to determine whether it’s a healthy choice for your oral hygiene.
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