Charcoal toothpastes are a popular trend that has arisen in recent times. They are often promoted as having a “tooth whitening” effect and other health benefits. However, are charcoal-containing toothpastes right for you?
Abrasiveness can cause enamel damage
It is primarily thought that the whitening effect of charcoal toothpastes occur through the abrasiveness of the particles. This means that when you brush your teeth with these toothpastes, you are physically removing stains by mechanical action. However, highly abrasive toothpastes are generally not recommended as this can cause the enamel of the tooth surface to be abraded away as well. Over time, you may end up with permanently thinned enamel. This is the same reason why we always recommend you to brush with a soft bristle toothbrush.
A whitening effect through abrasion is different to professional tooth whitening offered by dentists that bleach the colour of the teeth without affecting the tooth structure.
Lack of fluoride
The majority of charcoal toothpastes do not contain fluoride. Extensive research over many years has shown the important role that fluoride-containing toothpastes play in reducing the development of decay compared to non-fluoride-containing toothpastes. This effect is still seen even if an individual receives low levels of fluoride from another source, such as through water fluoridation.
Some charcoal toothpastes do contain fluoride, however the effectiveness of these toothpaste in preventing decay is not well studied.
Unknown long term health risks
Given the novel nature of charcoal toothpastes, there is inadequate evidence to conclude if they may be involved in any health risks. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons contained within charcoal are considered human carcinogens (i.e can cause the formation of cancer). Until the safety of charcoal toothpastes can be verified, we do not recommend for them to be used on a regular basis.
If you have any questions or queries regarding charcoal toothpaste and if it is right for you, speak to one of our friendly dentists at Peninsula Dental Care Rosebud!