Does Charcoal Toothpaste Work: Learning About Its Safety and Effectiveness

Does Charcoal Toothpaste Work? Learning About Its Safety and Effectiveness

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Gooey black toothpaste may look a bit odd, but many people are raving about their charcoal toothpaste. Many users believe it whitens teeth by removing the stains on the teeth surface. But does charcoal toothpaste work? Is it safe to put in the mouth? Will it pose a threat when used in the long run?

For more than 2000 years, the activated charcoal has been used for different health reasons, and the Romans used toothpaste charcoal-based powder. In the latter part of the century through today, activated charcoal has been used to treat victims of poisoning. That said, it’s important to research health products before trying them out to prevent potential counter effects. In this article, we will answer the most frequently asked questions about charcoal toothpaste.

Does Charcoal Toothpaste Work?

When talking about charcoal, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the gray rock that’s used for grilling. The charcoal toothpaste is actually made from activated charcoal, commonly used in water filters. This form of charcoal serve as “magnets” for unwanted particles such as dirt and oil that sometimes present in drinking water.

In relation to oral health, activated charcoal contains a processed form of carbon that has loads of tiny pores. These pores are believed to attract tartar, stains, and bacteria adhered to the surface of the teeth, helping to whiten them. Although no scientific research has proven the effectiveness of charcoal toothpaste, many users can give testimony about its efficacy.

On another note, charcoal toothpaste doesn’t contain toxins that could pose an adverse effect on health. Still, various oral health organizations such as the American Dental Association and Oral Health Foundation in the UK are warning the public against frequent use.

Charcoal toothpaste has a coarse texture that can be harsh to the tooth enamel. Repeated use will cause too much abrasion to the tooth enamel, which could make it more susceptible to bacteria. It can also make the teeth appear darker, which definitely is not the look you want. This is also the same scenario when using a toothbrush with hard bristles.

Additionally, oral health experts reveal that charcoal toothpaste doesn’t actually whiten teeth. It only removes the surface stains, known as extrinsic stains. Coffee, tobacco, red wine, and other dark-colored food items and drinks are the major cause of extrinsic stains. They embed into the enamel, and charcoal toothpaste and other tooth whitening products or treatments attempt to remove the offenders.

Charcoal toothpaste doesn’t remove the intrinsic stains seated in the deeper layer of the enamel. This discoloration is often caused by medications, weak enamel, mineral desposits during development, trauma, and even the overuse of fluoride. They can only be whitened with bleaching treatments that reach into the deeper layer of the enamel.

What Dentists Recommend

In regards to the abrasive property of charcoal toothpaste, some dentists recommend charcoal-based toothpaste instead. There’s also a wide variety of safe toothbrushes that help whiten teeth (i.e., toothbrush with bristles infused with charcoal). Use them every other day to remove surface stains.

When brushing with charcoal toothpaste, dentists advise brushing very gently to prevent the surface from wearing down. Do not completely shift from your regular toothpaste to charcoal toothpaste because the latter is more effective as a supplement to the regular toothpaste. Most regular toothpaste brands provide the fluoride that teeth need to prevent decay.

What Are the Alternative Ways to Whiten Your Teeth?

Charcoal toothpaste is just one of the many ways to whiten teeth. If you have weak enamel and sensitive teeth, charcoal toothpaste might not be a good idea. There are other hundreds of whitening products, but some contain chemicals that can harm the teeth. Fortunately, there are alternative ways to make your teeth whiter without worrying about chemicals.  These methods have limited research to back their effectiveness, and should be viewed with caution.

1. Oil Pulling

Oil pulling is a traditional Indian remedy that helps remove toxins from the body and improve oral health. It is done by swishing any kind of oil inside the mouth to eliminate bacteria that cause stain and plaque.  Whitening effects are questionable and unlikely to produce a result, but it’s easy and safe to try.

Most people who do oil pulling use coconut oil because it has a more pleasant flavor than any other oil. It also comes with components known to have oral health benefits such as lauric acid that helps lessen inflammation.

2. Brushing with Baking Soda

Baking soda is a common ingredient in commercial toothpaste because it has natural whitening agents. It does not whiten teeth so fast, but it does when used over time.

Baking soda has mild abrasive properties that help remove stains on the tooth surface, but there is no study yet that proves that plain baking soda effectively whitens teeth. Some claim though that toothpaste that contains baking soda can significantly eliminate stains from the tooth surface.

3. Using Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is commonly used to clean wounds by killing the bacteria. It is also added as an ingredient in a much higher amount in commercial whitening products. Some people might find it odd, but hydrogen peroxide can actually be used as a tooth whitener.

In fact, toothpaste with baking soda and one percent of hydrogen peroxide are proven to whiten teeth. One study showed that toothpaste with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, when used two times a day for four or six weeks, resulted in 62% whiter teeth.

However, too much hydrogen peroxide can lead to tooth sensitivity and gum inflammation. To avoid counter-effects, use only 1.5 to 3 percent of the solution.

4. Gargle with Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial properties that help disinfect the mouth and has bleaching influence that helps whiten teeth. However, since it is acidic, it may also soften the teeth. Therefore, avoid using it every day to prevent enamel erosion.  Be sure you DON’T brush immediately after rinsing since your mouth may be more acidic.


You can find a range of commercial charcoal toothpaste choices in the stores and when it comes to the question “Does charcoal toothpaste work?”, the answer would be, “Yes, maybe, by removing some external stains.”

While it is true that charcoal toothpaste may whiten teeth, it should be used with extreme caution. It has abrasive properties that strip away not only the surface stains but also the tooth enamel. Consider safer, professional options that preserve the only set of teeth you ever get!

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.