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Stop Brushing Your Teeth With Charcoal Toothpaste

Photo: Pixabay Trendy toothpastes are probably the worst option for your toothpaste, according to some British dentists. In a new paper, they have the claims behind these products, like better whitening, are completely unproven, and that they might even speed along tooth decay and other dental problems. Charcoal has become a major novelty ingredient to add to whatever consumer product you can think of, whether it's burger buns or makeup. But it's not just a pitch-black look that some companies are marketing; they are also often claiming that charcoal will clear out toxins, ward off infections, or just plain make you healthier. In the case of charcoal toothpastes, they are supposed to be better than whitening teeth, cleaning off stains, and preventing bad toothpastes. There is some grain of truth to the benefits of charcoal. Historically, charcoal has been used to help relieve gas and other digestive problems. Nowadays, activated charcoal — a form of charcoal that has been finely processed into powder — is used to save people who have entered certain deadly poisons or drugs, since the charcoal stops the poison from reaching the bloodstream through the gut. And it has been used (and still is in some rural communities globally) as a rudimentary toothpaste. But the authors behind this paper, published in the British Dental Journal, argue that the new fad or charcoal toothpastes is essentially bunk. They point to any evidence that shows that these products are somehow better at cleaning and whitening than other modern…

Photo: Pixabay

Trendy toothpastes are probably the worst option for your toothpaste, according to some British dentists. In a new paper, they have the claims behind these products, like better whitening, are completely unproven, and that they might even speed along tooth decay and other dental problems.

Charcoal has become a major novelty ingredient to add to whatever consumer product you can think of, whether it’s burger buns or makeup. But it’s not just a pitch-black look that some companies are marketing; they are also often claiming that charcoal will clear out toxins, ward off infections, or just plain make you healthier. In the case of charcoal toothpastes, they are supposed to be better than whitening teeth, cleaning off stains, and preventing bad toothpastes.

There is some grain of truth to the benefits of charcoal. Historically, charcoal has been used to help relieve gas and other digestive problems. Nowadays, activated charcoal — a form of charcoal that has been finely processed into powder — is used to save people who have entered certain deadly poisons or drugs, since the charcoal stops the poison from reaching the bloodstream through the gut. And it has been used (and still is in some rural communities globally) as a rudimentary toothpaste.

But the authors behind this paper, published in the British Dental Journal, argue that the new fad or charcoal toothpastes is essentially bunk. They point to any evidence that shows that these products are somehow better at cleaning and whitening than other modern toothpastes. And there are plenty of reasons to think that they’d be worse

For one, activated charcoal itself may be too abrasive for our teeth, wearing away their protective enamel layer. What’s more, the dark charcoal can leave teeth looking grim if it’s not wholly brushed off. The extra scrubbing needed to get rid of every trace of it could cause extra wear on enamel.

There is also the fact that ingredients known to help prevent tooth decay, such as fluoride, are often taken out of charcoal toothpastes, since the charcoal can absorb them. And while other ingredients can be substituted for fluoride, these products may still be worse overall to keep your teeth healthy. Lastly, there are those that can find small bits of charcoal in fillings, veneers, or other dental restorations. Over time, this accumulation could ironically make your teeth look worse by permanently staining these dental restorations.

And these dentists are not the only ones sounding an alarm over charcoal. A 2017 review in the Journal of the American Dental Association similarly found that there was “insufficient clinical and laboratory data to substantiate the safety and efficacy claims of charcoal and charcoal-based” toothpastes.

All of which is to say, there’s now need to stick charcoal in your mouth when regular toothpastes do their job. And as we have reported before, even the most gentle toothbrushing can wear down enamel, so be sure to use only light pressure when cleaning your teeth.

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Faela