Are Charcoal Toothbrushes Safe: A Buyer's Guide

Are Charcoal Toothbrushes Safe: A Buyer’s Guide

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Charcoal use in oral and dental health care isn’t a new concept. In fact, your grandparents or even great-grandparents might’ve used charcoal to clean their teeth before commercial toothpaste became available. Today, toothpaste and toothbrushes are infused with charcoal and marketed to offer deeper cleaning.  But are charcoal toothbrushes safe?

You’ve probably heard about the effectiveness of charcoal-infused toothpaste in teeth whitening. Charcoal exhibits absorptive properties that help remove surface stains, balance oral pH, and improve overall oral hygiene. Can charcoal toothbrushes achieve that too? Are they more effective than regular toothbrushes?

Here we’ll take a look at what charcoal toothbrushes are made of, what differentiates them from regular toothbrushes, and their benefits and disadvantages. We’ll also check out a few important points to consider when choosing a good toothbrush of any kind.

Are Charcoal Toothbrushes Safe?

To evaluate the safety of charcoal toothbrushes, let’s look into their components and how they work.

1. The Components

A charcoal toothbrush looks exactly like a regular toothbrush and the only obvious difference is the bristles. As the name implies, a charcoal toothbrush is made of bristles with charcoal infused into them. It attempts to trap the bacteria in the bristles while you brush your teeth rather than just forcing the bacteria around the mouth.

Another difference is in the handle. Compared to traditional toothbrushes, the handle of a charcoal toothbrush can be made of wood or a combination of wood and plastic. Component-wise, charcoal toothbrushes are safe, and there’s no harm in trying them out.

2. The Principle

The use of charcoal (or activated charcoal) in dental hygiene has sparked a vivid debate about the marketing claims and its safety. Although heralded with superpowers for teeth whitening, there’s no scientific research to prove its effects on teeth and overall oral hygiene.

The same is true with a charcoal toothbrush. Manufacturers believe that charcoal toothpaste can do wonders, so charcoal toothbrushes can too. The activated charcoal integrated into the toothbrushes is assumed to absorb stains, bacteria, and plaque.  Since charcoal displays detoxifying characteristics, that benefit is suggested in brushes.

This assumption could be correct for the first uses of a charcoal toothbrush, but after a couple of uses, the “activation” would disappear. Further studies are still on-going to back up these assumptions.

How do dentists feel about a charcoal toothbrush? Most of them say that charcoal toothbrushes are a big marketing ploy. Without any clear regulation, how would consumers know that the black bristles are infused with charcoal and not just ordinary black-colored nylon bristles? And without any standards in place, the activated charcoal’s abrasive elements should be used sparingly to avoid enamel damage.  So “Are charcoal toothbrushes safe?” Probably not the best choice in light of the other options.

What Are the Benefits of Using a Charcoal Toothbrush?

The advantages of a charcoal toothbrush are somewhat the same with charcoal toothpaste. Rather than brushing the activated charcoal around the mouth, you use the brush that already has the activated charcoal.

Here are some of the intended benefits of a charcoal toothbrush:

1. Lessens Tooth Surface Stain

The most common causes of yellowish stain on tooth surface are the dark-colored food and beverages such as coffee, tea, and red wine. The activated charcoal in the bristles helps absorb those elements that stick on the tooth surface. With regular brushing, your teeth become whiter as these stains are removed.

2. Aids in the Reduction of Bad Breath

The activated carbon-infused bristles also absorb the bacteria that cause bad breath. Unlike mints that mask the odor inside the mouth, a charcoal toothbrush eradicates the bacteria that create the smell, which results in more satisfying after-clean feel.

3. Helps Prevent Plaque

Activated charcoal has a porous texture that when you use it inside the mouth, it absorbs the debris and bacteria more effectively than a regular toothbrush. It sticks to these elements at a microscopic level and flushes them out when you rinse. As a result, your teeth are clean, preventing cavities that cause tooth decay and deterioration.

What Are the Downsides of Using a Charcoal Toothbrush?

Just like other charcoal products or most products in general, improper use of a charcoal toothbrush can lead to side effects. Among the disadvantages of using charcoal toothbrush are:

  • It’s not as effective as charcoal toothpaste or powder.
  • Compared to regular toothbrushes, charcoal toothbrush products are not usually found in local drugstores or supermarkets. They are relatively new, and some consumers are still having doubts about buying them.
  • Charcoal toothbrushes are usually more expensive than the regular ones.
  • Although the use of a charcoal toothbrush has a lot of benefits, there is a lack of scientific studies to support these claims. More research about the benefits or long-term effects needs to be conducted.

How to Choose a Good Toothbrush?

The market is bombarded with different kinds of toothbrushes from wooden, electric, to charcoal-infused. So, which features does the job in cleaning teeth most effectively without causing harm to the tooth enamel? Let’s find out.

1. Bristles

Whichever kind of toothbrush it is, the bristles shouldn’t abrade your tooth enamel.  Hard bristles can cause sensitivity, gum inflammation, and erosion. Choose bristles that are suitable for the strength of your teeth and how you brush your teeth.

Soft bristles are the safest and most comfortable, but soft bristles don’t allow you to brush any way you want. Brushing should be done gently to prevent damage on teeth and gums.

2. Size

The size of the head of the toothbrush should be small enough to reach all surfaces of the teeth. Larger heads might be hard to control to brush hard-to-reach zones such as the sides of the molars. The recommended size for an adult toothbrush is 0.5-inch wide and one-inch tall. Also, consider the handle so that you can grip it easily in your hand.

3. Seal of Approval

Toothbrushes also undergo a quality check for safety and effectiveness. Ask your dentist about his or her recommendation or look for toothbrushes that come with the American Dental Association seal.

4. Manual or Electric?

The electric toothbrush is an innovative way to clean the teeth. Its vibration helps remove the bacteria and prevent plaque buildup more effectively than a traditional toothbrush. It also comes with various brushing modes depending on your teeth sensitivity and strength. A decent model may cost a bit more, but it’s usually worth every penny.

Final Words

As long as you brush your teeth properly and regularly, you will be able to prevent cavities, bad breath, and inflammation. Giving a charcoal toothbrush a try won’t hurt and is still considered safe as long as you use it appropriately and observe oral hygiene. Just don’t expect miraculous results, and be sure to use an approved toothpaste!

About the Author Dr. Greg

Dr. Greg's experience in dentistry spans over 25 years serving patients of all ages. He's an advisor to and a consultant to many professional dental projects.