Charcoal Toothpastes, Are they Safe to Use?

Charcoal Toothpastes, Are they Safe to Use?


Currently there are more than 50 toothpastes available in the marketplace today that contain charcoal as an ingredient in one form or another.  These charcoal based toothpastes have become all the rage recently in oral health and are currently being promoted by Hollywood stars and beauty companies alike as the best method to whiten teeth, re-mineralize cavities and freshen breath.  However, recent studies have called into question whether charcoal is actually causing more harm than good when it comes to your oral health.

What is Activated Charcoal?

Activated charcoal is a form of carbon that is commonly used in filtration media.   It can be found as the main component in water filters and other filtration media due to its porous surface area that binds, attracts, and removes impurities and other undesired particles.

Activated charcoal toothpastes are nothing new. In fact, ancient Romans made toothpaste by combining charcoal powder with crushed bones, oyster shells and bark.

Are Charcoal Toothpastes Safe to Use?

A recent study published earlier this year in the British Dental Journal found that charcoal provided minimal protection against tooth decay and there is limited scientific evidence to support the other oral health claims.  In fact, it was found that adding powdered charcoal to toothpaste can actually make things worse.  One finding in particular revealed that when used too often in people with fillings, the charcoal could get stuck between the filling and tooth and become difficult or impossible to remove. Additionally, charcoal particles were found to get caught under the gum tissue, irritating the tissue when not removed and creating potential problems, including infection, gum recession and bone loss.

Furthermore, charcoal is a naturally abrasive substance and daily use could potentially result in wearing away enamel from your teeth, causing teeth to become more yellow, darker and even temperature sensitive.  Additionally, its well understood that charcoal contains various polyaromatic hydrocarbons, which are well known as being human carcinogens!

In conclusion, our recommendation is to save the charcoal for the grill and avoid all toothpastes that contain charcoal in any form and please feel free to ask us about it at your next visit.  As always, my staff and I are available to answer any concerns you may have about any oral health issues.

To Your Health,

James Segulyev, D.D.S.