Charcoal Toothpaste for Teeth Whitening: Effectiveness & Safety
Everyone’s always looking for the next big whitening tactic.
Charcoal toothpaste has become one of the most popularized (and advertised) solutions to whiten your teeth and cleanse them of plaque and germs at the same time.
In fact, it makes no sense to use charcoal to whiten your teeth under any circumstances. Charcoal might be abrasive, but abrasion does not necessarily equate to healthy whitening, and we’ll explain why.
Will Charcoal Toothpaste Really Whiten Your Teeth?
Charcoal toothpaste contains activated charcoal as its primary (and main) ingredient. Activated charcoal is mildly abrasive.
For example, when you use charcoal toothpaste and scrape it across your teeth, it does indeed remove any embedded plaque or staining particles in your enamel. The only trouble is… that’s not really whitening. It’s just using abrasive force to get rid of food that regular toothpaste could have helped you fix anyway.
Indeed, a true tooth whitening product can take care of both stains on the surface of your teeth (in the enamel layer) and stains below the enamel, in the dentin of your teeth. Activated charcoal doesn’t go below the enamel until it has worn down the enamel layer and caused potentially irreversible damage.
Is Charcoal Toothpaste Safe For Your Teeth?
Not at all. As mentioned, charcoal toothpaste can gradually grind down the enamel layer of your teeth. This enamel layer is a protective shield that guards the dentin and pulp of your teeth against germs, physical damage, and even hot or cold foods that could otherwise cause sensitivity.
While our enamel layer is great, it can’t be fully rebuilt or regenerated once it is gone.
Therefore, using charcoal toothpaste regularly is fully detrimental to your teeth and can gradually make them more sensitive or vulnerable to cavities.
Simply put, charcoal toothpaste is a risky “whitening” solution that’s far inferior to many other whitening products.
What Are the Claims of Charcoal Toothpaste?
The charcoal toothpaste fad didn’t come out of nowhere. People started using charcoal toothpaste because of several dramatic claims about its effectiveness or health.
Let’s tackle these myths one by one.
Removes Surface Stains
Charcoal toothpaste companies claim that activated charcoal can capably remove surface stains. But that’s not true.
As we explained above, all activated charcoal does is scrape away food particles and any other coloring material that might be embedded in your teeth’s enamel. That’s not whitening; that’s just regular abrasion!
Some people, for example, have tooth stains because they drink a lot of black coffee, which gradually colors their enamel. Activated charcoal doesn’t fix this issue. It just removes the enamel itself, leading to long-term dental problems.
Improves Bad Breath
Activated charcoal proponents will also claim that it can improve bad breath, especially when mixed with mint or other ingredients. This is technically true… But not for the reasons you think.
In fact, activated charcoal can only improve bad breath by lifting away germs and plaque, which regular toothpaste does already. In this way, it’s no better way than other types of toothpaste, particularly those with fluoride.
If you’re looking for a magical bad breath fixer, activated charcoal isn’t the answer.
Prevents Staining After Professional Cleanings
Many fans of activated charcoal toothpaste also claim that charcoal can stop stains that sometimes crop up after professional cleaning or whitening sessions. These white spots occasionally appear due to decalcification, which is a side effect of exposure to too much fluoride.
These spots normally disappear on their own, especially if you maintain a well-balanced diet with plenty of calcium and use fluoride-infused toothpaste. Activated charcoal does nothing to prevent stains after professional cleanings, at least not more than other toothpaste products would as well.
As you can see, all of the allegedly unique benefits that activated charcoal toothpaste can provide either aren’t benefits at all or are also benefits provided by regular toothpaste products.
What Charcoal Toothpaste Actually Does
Because charcoal toothpaste doesn’t add anything beneficial or unique to your teeth-cleaning routine, it's more important to focus on the real effects that it actually causes.
Damages Your Teeth -- It’s Too Abrasive
Charcoal in general is abrasive, and that factor doesn’t change no matter how activated charcoal toothpaste companies mix the ingredient with other agents.
When you scrape activated charcoal on your teeth, you wear down the enamel layer and may permanently damage your teeth, as well as cause intense discomfort.
Can Make Teeth Look More Yellow
Although it’s really advertised as a whitening solution, activated charcoal can actually make your teeth look more yellow than they did before.
By wearing down your teeth’s enamel layer, your teeth’s dentin is gradually exposed. Dentin normally has a slightly yellowish color whereas enamel is white.
Temporary “Whitening” Only -- Doesn’t Remove Stains Below the Enamel
In the rare cases where activated charcoal does technically help to whiten teeth, it only does so on a short-term basis. Remember, to fully whiten your teeth, any solution has to remove stains embedded in the enamel and deeper stains that are embedded in the dentin: the layer of material underneath the enamel.
Activated charcoal can only scrape away stains on your teeth’s enamel, so it’s not a full-on whitening fix.
Can Cause Tooth Sensitivity
By removing your teeth’s enamel layer, activated charcoal can lead to increased tooth sensitivity. Enamel protects your teeth from germs, physical wear and tear, and high or low-temperature foods and drinks.
Without enamel, your teeth’s nerves will be more exposed to the pressures of chewing or from things like hot coffee or ice cream. All this can lead to much higher than average tooth sensitivity and intense discomfort.
Usually Doesn’t Contain Fluoride
Another major downside of charcoal toothpaste is the usual lack of fluoride. Most charcoal toothpaste products don’t contain any or enough fluoride, and fluoride is a key re-mineralization agent that can help to protect your teeth’s enamel layer.
In this way, activated charcoal is doubly bad for your teeth and their enamel!
Can Stain Dental Restorations
If you have one or more dental restorations (such as false teeth), activated charcoal can ironically stain those restorations and ruin their appearance.
Given enough time, the charcoal particles can become embedded into the dental restoration material, leading to dark spots that will only be further worsened by using charcoal toothpaste again and again.
What Are the Best Ingredients for Teeth Whitening?
If you really want to look for active ingredients that can lead to long-term teeth whitening, you’ll want to prioritize the below compounds instead.
Hydrogen peroxide is a common whitening agent since it is a mild bleaching product. As a result, it can help to whiten minor to moderately stained teeth, especially when mixed with other whitening compounds in toothpaste products.
However, hydrogen peroxide can’t be overused as it may increase tooth sensitivity. It might also be a bad choice for people with naturally sensitive teeth.
Baking soda is commonly combined with hydrogen peroxide to create an at-home whitening solution. Baking soda can polish away mild stains on the surfaces of your teeth, especially since it’s not likely to grind away enamel if used correctly and not too frequently.
Baking soda can also fight off germs, reducing the formation and prevalence of plaque and preventing tooth decay as a result.
Calprox is a revolutionary and proprietary whitening agent developed by Dr. Irwin Smigel, designed to both whiten and protect your teeth simultaneously. Unlike plenty of other active whitening ingredients in toothpaste products, Calprox certainly won’t wear down your teeth’s enamel.
It’s only made with safe yet effective ingredients, and each product containing Calprox is clinically tested and proven to work before we send it to market. You can find Calprox in a wide range of our best offerings, including our Professional Whitening Toothpaste and Whitening Accelerator.
Supersmile’s Accelerator Formula
Speaking of a Whitening Accelerator, this special offer only from Supersmile is the perfect pick for people who want to whiten their teeth but who hate sensitivity. Paired with our Professional Whitening Toothpaste, our Whitening Accelerator uses Calprox and other gentle ingredients to eliminate plaque, remineralize and restore enamel, and avoid enamel abrasion.
Best of all, this whitening solution can whiten teeth up to six shades in 30 days on average without adding to sensitivity. As you can see, you don’t need to rely on activated charcoal to get the white smile you’ve always wanted.
Instead, see what Supersmile’s whitening products can do for you… without risking the strength of your enamel. We have it all, from fluoride toothpaste to electric toothbrushes to floss to tongue scrapers. And you need to maximize dental hygiene and whiten your smile, you can find out at our online store!
Activated Charcoal: Uses and Risks | WebMD
Dentin and the Layers of Your Teeth | Very Well Health
Tooth Discoloration: Causes, Treatment & Prevention | Cleveland Clinic
Remineralizing Teeth: 11 Effective Home Remedies to Try | Healthline