Updated on February 22, 2024
4 min read

Does Charcoal Toothpaste Work?

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What is Activated Charcoal Toothpaste?

Activated charcoal is one of the trendiest ingredients in the wellness and cosmetics industry, most often used in commercial face masks, body scrubs, and toothpaste. 

Charcoal is activated by exposing it to high temperatures and gas. This process makes charcoal more porous and able to trap or absorb chemicals and toxins.

Several cultures have a long tradition of using charcoal for oral hygiene.1 While it has a wide range of potential health and beauty benefits, more research is needed on the long-term effects of using charcoal toothpaste.

Activated Charcoal in Oral Care Products

Charcoal is eco-friendly, herbal, and naturally occurring. Promotions claim it is an oral detoxifying, antiseptic, antibacterial, and antifungal agent. More recently, activated charcoal has become a popular teeth-whitening remedy. 

Charcoal can be found in many different oral care products, such as:

  • Whitening toothpaste
  • Whitening gels 
  • Mouthwashes 
  • Floss
  • Toothbrush heads

Note: Research is mixed about whether or not it’s safe and effective to use on teeth. Some of the promised detoxifying effects may need to be more accurate. 

toothbrush and charcoal toothpaste in a glass plate

Read more about the best whitening toothpastes.

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Does Charcoal Toothpaste Whiten Teeth?

Studies have shown that charcoal may work by removing surface stains on the teeth. To properly whiten teeth, a product must work on surface and intrinsic stains, which are stains below the tooth’s enamel.

There is no evidence that charcoal has any effect on intrinsic stains. Research shows that other whitening formulations, such as those that contain blue covarine, are more effective at whitening teeth.2,3 

Claimed Oral Health Benefits of Charcoal

Products that support the use of activated charcoal for dental or oral health claim it can:

  • Remove surface stains, biofilm, and acidic plaque from the surface of teeth
  • Freshen the breath by detoxifying saliva
  • Inhibit the growth of bacteria, fungi, and viruses via antimicrobial properties
  • Bleach the teeth by removing internal stains via detoxification
  • Reduce gum inflammation by detoxification 
  • Reduce the risk of cavities and tooth decay by eliminating biofilm and plaque using abrasion

In recent years, charcoal has become a trendy ‘detoxifying’ supplement. Some claim charcoal can treat:

  • Hangovers
  • Digestive issues
  • Kidney problems
  • Discolored teeth
  • Bad breath

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Is Charcoal Toothpaste Healthy?

Dr. Nandita Lilly, one of NewMouth’s in-house dentists, says, “Charcoal has been used for centuries in many countries and claims to have antiseptic, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. However, insufficient scientific evidence substantiates charcoal’s cosmetic and health benefits.”

Many dental professionals tend to agree with Dr. Lilly. Here’s why:

1. Charcoal Is Too Abrasive

Dental products that are too abrasive may whiten teeth by removing a healthy layer of tooth enamel.3,5 

Toothpastes are given a Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA) value, which measures their abrasiveness. A value higher than 200 is considered abrasive and harmful to the teeth.6

Depending on the brand, most charcoal toothpaste products score between 70 and 90, meaning activated charcoal can moderately harm enamel. Gentle and effective toothpastes have RDA values of 4 to 60. 

2. Many Charcoal Toothpastes Do Not Contain Fluoride

Fluoride helps to strengthen tooth enamel, protecting your teeth against cavities and decay. Toothpastes that do not contain fluoride do not protect your teeth’s enamel and can contribute to decay. 

3. Charcoal Can Cause Adverse Effects

No evidence shows that activated charcoal is entirely safe for dental health.2,3,5 The Journal of the American Dental Association found insufficient evidence to support such claims.

Researchers also discovered that activated charcoal might cause adverse outcomes, like an increased risk of tooth decay and enamel abrasion.5 Due to these findings, researchers advise dentists to warn patients about charcoal-based dental products. 

Alternative Teeth Whitening Products 

Several over-the-counter (OTC) oral products can effectively whiten teeth without causing harm. These OTC teeth whitening products use less abrasive compounds than charcoal to remove surface (extrinsic) stains. 

Many OTC teeth whitening products also use bleaching agents that create chemical reactions to change tooth color. OTC whitening products’ most common bleaching agents are hydrogen and carbamide peroxide. You can also buy blue covarine products, which may help reduce yellowness.

Effective OTC teeth whitening options include:

  • Whitening toothpastes, mouth rinses, and chewing gums
  • Whitening strips, gels, pens, and trays
  • Whitening LED kits (used with whitening gels or pastes)

For even more effective teeth whitening, you can get professional treatments, such as:

  • Professional whitening or power bleaching
  • Tooth polishing from a dentist or dental hygienist
  • Customized at-home whitening trays

Smile brighter, fight cavities, freshen breath – 2024's best toothpastes deliver. See our expert picks here.


Charcoal toothpaste is a trendy ingredient in the wellness and oral health industries, promising detoxification and teeth-whitening effects. However, activated charcoal is no more effective than other at-home whitening products.

Toothpaste with charcoal may help to remove stains. However, the long-term effects of activated charcoal still need to be discovered due to limited research.

It’s best to discuss the most suitable whitening treatment with your dentist.

Fresher breath, healthier gums, stronger teeth – find it all in 2024's best mouthwashes. Explore the top picks here.

Last updated on February 22, 2024
8 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 22, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Zellner et al. “The Use of Activated Charcoal to Treat Intoxications.” Deutsches Arzteblatt International, 2019.
  2. Epple et al. “A Critical Review of Modern Concepts for Teeth Whitening.” Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2019
  3. Brooks et al. “Charcoal and charcoal-based dentifrices.” The Journal of the American Dental Association, 2017.
  4. Thakur et al. “Charcoal in Dentistry.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, 2020.
  5. Brooks et al. “Charcoal and Charcoal-Based Dentifrices: A Literature Review.” The Journal of the American Dental Association, 2017.
  6. Eimar et al. “Hydrogen Peroxide Whitens Teeth by Oxidizing the Organic Structure.” Journal of Dentistry, 2012.
  7. “What’s the Deal with Charcoal and Teeth: ASDA.” American Student Dental Association.
  8. Basting et al. “Clinical Comparative Study of the Effectiveness of and Tooth Sensitivity to 10% and 20% Carbamide Peroxide Home-Use and 35% and 38% Hydrogen Peroxide In-Office Bleaching Materials Containing Desensitizing Agents.” Operative Dentistry, 2012.
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