Does charcoal actually whiten teeth?

More harmful to teeth than beneficial

Tarwinder Rai - 20 October 2019

Charcoal-based toothpaste can be more harmful to your teeth than beneficial warn dental hygienists.

"It's just another marketing fad," says dental hygiene clinical associate professor Sally Lockwood. "There is no convincing scientific evidence to support the claims made by charcoal-based toothpaste. On the other hand charcoal is an abrasive material that can lead to the loss of luster and enamel of teeth."

Charcoal-based toothpaste claim to whiten teeth, help with bad breath, and absorb other bacteria in the mouth.

"Charcoal-based toothpaste has become a fashionable marketing gimmick," says Lockwood, adding the first documented use of charcoal on teeth was in the time of ancient Greece. "Again, none of these claims have been proven. I would not recommend this product to any of my patients."

Aside from damaging the tooth surface, Lockwood says charcoal toothpaste can damage gum tissue, root surfaces, tooth restorations, and leave particles behind in periodontal pockets.

"One of the biggest concerns that come from using charcoal toothpaste is that they no longer have sufficient amounts of fluoride in them. Evidence suggests that charcoal in the toothpaste can absorb the fluoride, making it unavailable to the tooth and reducing the paste's cavity fighting ability," she says. "The claim is that charcoal toothpaste is antibacterial, antifungal and it will remove tooth stains.

"But in reality, the charcoal absorbs the fluoride even before you use it and charcoal only helps remove surface stains not the intrinsic ones. This means you're using a toothpaste without available fluoride and putting your teeth at risk."

Lockwood says to ensure you are not jeopardizing your oral health, seeking professional care from a dentist and dental hygienist for teeth whitening is recommended.