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Do Charcoal Toothpastes Work?

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Medically reviewed by: Helen Carey Dip in Dental Hygiene and Therapy Lond 2009

does charcoal toothpaste work

The charcoal can bind with the fluoride needed to protect your teeth from decay

What is charcoal toothpaste?

The charcoal used in toothpastes is called activated charcoal. The charcoal itself can come from wood, peat, coconut shell, petroleum or coal. But it is exposed to a special gas that causes it to develop large pores or spaces which is what makes it “activated”. These large pores make the charcoal more absorbent, allowing it to soak up a variety of substances.

How does charcoal toothpaste work for whitening?

The activated charcoal claims to absorb chemicals – leaving whiter teeth.  Though the jury is still out as to whether it actually absorbs stains or it just scrubs the tooth’s surface as the is no scientific research to back the claims. The daily mail recently featured an article stating it doesn’t NOT whiten teeth. There is also a great worry that the abrasiveness that removes surface stain will too, damage your tooth’s enamel, which in turn creates a more porous and stain susceptible surface!

Should I use charcoal toothpaste?

Your dentist and dental hygienist will be able to recommend the right toothpaste for you. If you have significant risk factors such as a high-sugar or high-acidity diet or you smoke you may want to steer clear of the charcoal-based toothpastes as they very often contain little else. Fluoride is a key ingredient to protecting your teeth from dental disease and there are firm concerns that the absorbent nature of the charcoal will, in fact, absorb the fluoride and prevent it from breaking down plaque, fighting acids and remineralising your tooth enamel.


Social media hype and celebrity endorsement should be followed with trepidation. If you wish to experiment with alternative whitening options check in with your dentist or dental hygienist first. Quite often we’ll have a safe, evidence-based option for you to try! And, if surface stains are your concern upgrade your hygiene appointment to PROPHYpearls air polish… you’ll be amazed.

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