By: Dr. Sharanya Srinivasa DMD
It seems like you cannot open your Instagram explore page these days without seeing someone brushing their teeth with a sludgy charcoal mixture. What is this stuff? Will it make my teeth whiter?
Charcoal toothpaste is made of activated charcoal, a type of carbon with tiny pores that increase the absorption of chemical reactions. I hate to break it to you, but there is no dental research showing that activated charcoal toothpaste is an effective way to whiten teeth in comparison to professional whitening treatments. In fact, the American Dental Association warns activated charcoal may be too abrasive for tooth enamel.
From my personal experience seeing patients who used charcoal toothpaste (even 1 time per week), the results were not promising. The charcoal powder became embedded in a pocket in-between the tooth and the gum. This formed a gray line below all of the gums. The charcoal also gave a grayish tint to the gums. However, there was no noticeable whiteness. It appeared that the charcoal made the gums darker in shade, causing the tooth to appear whiter. Hence, not actually whitening the tooth itself.
In my opinion, charcoal toothpaste tricks you into thinking you are naturally whitening your teeth. You need to brush extremely hard to get the charcoal toothpaste off, causing you to brush more which may give the illusion of a whiter smile. Do not waste time and energy (and tooth enamel!) on this product.