Teeth whitening with charcoal toothpaste – Does it work?

People that have been looking for a whiter smile, at some point might reach out for charcoal toothpaste. There are well known claims that charcoal toothpaste naturally whitens your teeth. But how effective it is in teeth whitening and is it safe?

The answer to the first part of that question is a bit of a mixed bag. Charcoal toothpaste will brighten your smile a bit but as it turns out it is NOT the best teeth whitening solution. And it’s not even the safest.

Charcoal was used for teeth whitening back in ancient Greece. And in the 1930s and 1940s, some American manufacturers made charcoal chewing gum and powder and claimed that it will freshen your breath and whiten your teeth. And now, you can find all sorts of stuff infused with active charcoal e.g. floss, mouth wash, toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Charcoal can be effective against some poisons and acute overdoses. Because of the production process, charcoal develops internal pores that act as a trap for chemicals. It is believed that these pores could also help in detoxifying your mouth and whiten your teeth.

Even though that charcoal toothpastes were claimed to have whitening benefits and detoxifying properties, there is no scientific agreement on what detoxifying means. And the majority of these claims aren’t really supported.

In a 2019 study, researches stained 90 cow teeth with black tea and applied several teeth whitening solutions to see which one is the best. Even though charcoal didn’t rank top, but it did show some promising results after a period of 4 weeks. The best whitening agent however, was blue covarine.

Some researchers believe that the whitening effect of charcoal toothpaste is achieved thanks to the abrasive surface of the paste. It is believed that the abrasive surface removes a thin layer of enamel. And even though this might make the teeth appear more white, it also weakens them since tooth enamel is the outer layer of your teeth protecting the interior layer from decay.

When researches looked at charcoal particles under a powerful microscope, they noticed that the particles are actually really sharp. So essentially it looks like rinsing your mouth with rocks. Furthermore, charcoals can contain hydrocarbons that are recognized as carcinogen. So there is a well-established concern that people that use charcoal toothpaste more often than they should could be causing more harm than good. So what are your options?

Well, over-the-counter and prescription treatments that use peroxides for a whitening substance are a much safer and better alternative than charcoal. Even though these are safer methods, people shouldn’t overdo it, because after using teeth whitening solutions, many people complain about tooth sensitivity and gum irritation. So instead of worrying about what whitening product should you use and the effects of it, try and don’t consume food and drinks that can stain your teeth like coffee, red wine, tobacco etc.


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Dr. Nguyen
Dr. Nguyen

Dr. Nguyen is committed to providing high-quality dentistry using state-of-the-art equipment to help you achieve improved oral health and the beautiful smile you deserve.

Dr. Nguyen has served on the Virginia Board of Dentistry and has many achievements such as: Invisalign Premier and Teen Provider, Pre-Fellow with Academy of General Dentistry, Graduate of Aesthetic Continuum, Engel Institute for Dental Implant Training, WaveOne Endodontic Training, HD President’s Club.

Dr. Nguyen enjoys spending time with his wife and three daughters, staying active in the gym, and trying out new restaurants.  When he isn’t at work, you can find him playing basketball, tennis, football, or hiking.

“I want to make you feel right at home, exceed your expectations, and provide an amazing experience!”