Charcoal containing toothpaste can do more harm than good to our teeth.

Charcoal containing toothpaste are increasingly popular these days and are promoted to be leading to the higher tooth whitening. Dozens of tooth whitening products contain charcoal claiming it to have detoxifying and destaining properties. However, recently a literature review published in the British Dental Journal made a contrasting revelation that theses charcoal containing products can do more harm than good to our teeth. According to the review not only these products failed to keep their promises, but also gave deleterious results such as increased dental caries, enamel abrasion, and even cancer.

Charcoal is usually produced by slow pyrolysis — the heating of wood or other substances in the absence of oxygen. Activated charcoal is charcoal processed to have a low -volume providing a high surface area for adsorption and chemical reactions. Activated charcoal is often used to manage drug overdose. Nowadays there is a hype of charcoal-based beauty products in the market ranging from face wash, shampoos to the deodorants.

Many oral health companies use charcoal in their product claiming it to have antiviral, antibacterial and detoxifying, and destaining properties. Indian market is flooded with such brands that sell charcoal containing toothpaste and tooth scrubs and the celebrity endorsement make these products more enticing.

The literature  review published in the Journal of American Dental Association which examined 50 charcoal toothpaste from and for the ascertainment of their promises that they make in the endorsement of these products to have whitening, brightening, and detoxifying properties.

The literature search identified 118 eligible studies from which the authors identified thirteen studies that reported brushing the teeth with raw charcoal or soot; however, none of these studies met the inclusion criteria. Two studies offered nonspecific caries reductions, 3 studies reported deleterious outcomes (increased caries, enamel abrasion, nonquantified negative impact), and 1 study indicated only that brushing with raw charcoal had no adverse effects on oral hygiene. Seven other studies reported only on the use of charcoal for oral hygiene.

The review search could not find any revelation of the identified results with the therapeutic claims made by the brands in their product endorsement such as antifungal, antibacterial, the detoxifying property of these products. Furthermore, in the literature review, the authors identified one-third of the charcoal dentifrices to contain bentonite clay and one contained betel leaves. The study also pointed out that ‘possible health risks’ associated with the use of charcoal-based toothpaste was linked to the addition of human carcinogenic polyaromatic hydrocarbons in charcoal.


Govind Shukla, Specializes in Pharmacology, Toxicology, Nutraceuticals & Herbal Drugs has published More than 100 research papers in National & International Journals. He is also a reviewer of International Journal of Pharmacology & pharmacotherapeutics, Chief editor of IJPNR Journal & Freelance Medical Writer for Different publication Groups including Lambert Academic Publishing Saarbrucken, Germany.