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Activated Charcoal Toothpaste or Powders

Activated charcoal toothpaste and powders have been gaining popularity the past
few years. Ads have been flooding social media. You may have seen the YouTube
videos and the Pinterest before and after photos. It has become a true dental fad.
Charcoal is not only a trend right now, but historically ancient Romans used
charcoal, amongst other products to clean teeth. As a dental hygienist, I get questions
about charcoal toothpaste often. Does the toothpaste actually whiten the teeth? Does
it help prevent gingivitis? Is charcoal toothpaste effective and safe to use?

Unfortunately, the answer is unclear on the effectiveness and safety of using

activated charcoal toothpastes or powders. The Journal of the American Dental
Association did a literature review of 118 articles and smaller studies done on
charcoal and charcoal-based toothpastes. The conclusion was that there was
insufficient clinical and laboratory data to substantiate the safety and efficacy of
charcoal and charcoal-based toothpastes. Larger-scale and well-designed studies are
needed to establish conclusive evidence (Brooks, Bashirelahi, & Reynolds, 2017).

The Pharmaceutical Journal states, there have been no scientific studies published
that support the effectiveness of charcoal toothpastes in tooth whitening, oral hygiene
and any claimed preventative effects (Greenwall & Wilson, 2017).
From information I have gathered from journal articles written on the subject,
activated charcoal toothpastes are seemingly effective in removing surface stains
from coffee, tea, red wine,etc. This is most likely due to the abrasive nature of
activated charcoal. There has not been enough evidence to show that activated
charcoal toothpaste has an effect on whitening yellow teeth. Activated charcoal is
characteristically absorbent,however in the form of a toothpaste, it may be the
abrasiveness that is contributing to the removal of the stain.

The abrasive nature of

activated charcoal can be seen
as a potential concern as well.
Activated carbon is more
grainy than traditional pastes
and can potentially cause
damage to the teeth (Potts,
2018). There was not much
information supporting gum
health, however some reviews
claimed that a side effect was
gum irritation. There are a lot
of positive claims and a lot of
negative claims, yet no claim is
supported by enough clinical
evidence to be deemed as true.

In conclusion, we have to take

this information lightly because there is not enough substantial evidence to support
these claims. Because activated charcoal toothpastes and powders have grown in
popularity, there are a lot of companies making this type product right now and some
may be putting harmful ingredients into the mix. RDH magazine claims that some
foreign brands of toothpaste may contain toxic ingredients. We must exercise caution
when buying a product like this. Several charcoal toothpastes or powders on the
market right now do not contain Fluoride, which is the key ingredient for cavity
prevention. If you’re using a charcoal toothpaste without Fluoride, your dental
professional may recommend supplementing with a Fluoride mouth rinse.

My recommendation would be to read the ingredients carefully when purchasing

toothpaste, especially if it is not from a reputable company. Be cautious if using
activated charcoal toothpaste or powder and do not use it long-term until more
research has been published to support the safety and efficacy of the product.