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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.
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:
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.
Read more about the best whitening toothpastes.
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Get your brightest smile with NewMouth's top teeth whitening picks for 2024.
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
Products that support the use of activated charcoal for dental or oral health claim it can:
In recent years, charcoal has become a trendy ‘detoxifying’ supplement. Some claim charcoal can treat:
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See NewMouth’s top 10 teeth whitening products of 2024.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
For even more effective teeth whitening, you can get professional treatments, such as:
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.
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Fresher breath, healthier gums, stronger teeth – find it all in 2024's best mouthwashes. Explore the top picks here.