Do Charcoal Toothbrushes Actually Work?

Do Charcoal Toothbrushes Actually Work?
Source – Smiling Kids Pediatric Dentistry

Activated charcoal is a porous substance that has certain health benefits. It’s made by burning regular charcoal (like you’d use for grilling) in the presence of a gas that causes it to become porous, or “active." Because of the pores, it can trap chemicals.


Medically reviewed by Dr K on 21st June 2022. 

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  1. About Activated Charcoal
  2. Charcoal Toothbrushes: Does It Work Or Not?
  3. Benefits
  4. Drawbacks
  5. Bonus Points
  6. Frequently Asked Questions

Do Charcoal Toothbrushes Actually Work?

Charcoal toothbrushes have recently become popular. Advocates promote their qualities, claiming that they can:

  • Whiten your teeth
  • Improve your breath
  • Eliminate bacteria in your gums 
  • Remove your teeth plaque

This is due to the activated charcoal that has been injected into their bristles. But do they really work? And how safe are they?

This article will explain what activated charcoal is, as well as the advantages and drawbacks of using charcoal toothbrushes.

Source - Healthline

About Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is a porous substance that has certain health benefits. It’s made by burning regular charcoal (like you’d use for grilling) in the presence of a gas that causes it to become porous, or “active." Because of the pores, it can trap chemicals.

Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal acts like a sponge due to its porous nature. It is sometimes used to treat conditions such as:

  • Drug overdose and poisoning
  • Intestinal gas
  • High cholesterol
  • Hangovers

One of the most often utilised emergency therapies for poisoning and overdose is activated charcoal (AC). This is because it can trap medicines and other poisons, preventing them from being absorbed by your digestive system. This use is supported by one piece of evidence.

However, the data for other applications, such as dental usage, is weak. Much of the research is decades old and, at best, exploratory. So far, AC has not progressed beyond animal experiments or limited human trials for the majority of potential uses.

Recap

Charcoal toothbrushes have grown popular due to a range of alleged effects. Activated charcoal is often used to treat overdose and acute poisoning. Other uses are untested.

Charcoal Toothbrushes: Does It Work Or Not?

You might have heard a lot regarding charcoal toothbrushes if you listen to certain celebrities and online influencers. They claimed the elimination of germs will help whiten teeth, eliminate plaque, and freshen breath.

When you look at the studies, though, you will uncover contradictory data rather than resounding praise. According to a 2017 assessment of data, dentists should use caution while utilising AC products. According to researchers, not enough is known regarding their safety and efficacy.

Benefits

Some study has shown that there may be advantages to using AC for dental purposes, but not enough studies have been conducted to establish definitive conclusions.

Teeth Whitening 

Some study suggests that AC might help with whitening. In one research, however, AC toothpaste was shown to be less effective than toothpaste with microbeads or blue covarine.

Furthermore, not all of the studies agree. According to 2020 research, charcoal-based powders are ineffective for “bleaching" teeth.

Improved Breath

Bacteria on your teeth and tongue create the majority of foul breath. As a result, eliminating germs in your mouth might aid in keeping your breath fresh.

AC toothbrushes could be useful in reducing germs. A 2018 research on charcoal-infused toothbrushes discovered that they are excellent in lowering bacteria levels.

The toothbrush bristles in the research had considerably fewer germs after usage than ordinary toothbrushes used by the same individuals for the same period of time.

Because the researchers did not particularly address foul breath, it is uncertain if the reduced bacterial levels were helpful.

Other Charcoal Products

Activated charcoal can be found in toothpaste, toothbrushes, whitening powders, dental floss, and mouthwash.

Plaque Removal

Because of its absorbent nature, AC can aid in the removal of plaque from your teeth. At least one minor piece of research backs this up.

According to a 2019 study, charcoal toothbrushes decreased plaque. It also reduced gingivitis (gum inflammation) markers, which might be attributed to decreased bacterial levels.

Recap

Charcoal toothbrushes are claimed to whiten teeth, freshen breath, eliminate germs, and remove plaque, however, research on whitening is conflicting. According to one research, antimicrobial capabilities may enhance breath. Some certain studies found they lower plaque and gingivitis markers.

Drawbacks

AC is afflicted by more than simply a lack of proof. When it comes to dental usage, activated charcoal has several drawbacks.

Messy

Charcoal toothbrushes are an environmentally friendly method to utilise charcoal. However, charcoal toothpaste and powder tubes can be exceedingly messy.

They can leave a black residue in the sink, on the countertops, and on your skin or clothing. They might also make your teeth seem grey, which is not what you want from a whitening solution.

Erosion

The main risk of using AC on your teeth is erosion. Your teeth are covered in a firm and protective coating of enamel.

However, abrasive materials might destroy your enamel. Enamel erosion may reveal the softer tissue underneath the enamel, known as dentin.

Dentin is a naturally yellow pigment. As a result, erosive products might actually make your teeth yellower.

Not Dentist Approved

Because of the erosion issue, the American Dental Association (ADA) advises against putting AC on your teeth.

Enamel that has worn away cannot be replaced. Erosion may expose you to:

  • Teeth with temperature sensitivity
  • Discolouration
  • More cavities
  • Changes in fillings
  • Abscesses or tooth loss (pus-filled pockets, in extreme cases)

Fillings, crowns, and root canals are more likely to be required in eroded teeth. They must sometimes be removed. Veneers could be the only option to get white teeth back.

Summary

Charcoal toothbrushes can fall short of expectations. There is conflicting evidence on whether they whiten teeth.

They may destroy bacteria, freshen your breath, eliminate plaque, and reduce your risk of gum disease, but further research is required.

Because charcoal is abrasive, this could destroy your enamel. These products are typically not recommended by dentists.

Bonus Point

Consult your dentist before attempting any non-ADA-approved techniques of whitening your teeth or boosting your dental health. They may direct you to products and practices that have been demonstrated to be safe and effective.

If you must use a charcoal toothbrush despite the cautions, do so only on occasion.

Keep in mind that tooth enamel cannot be replaced. There are several whitening treatments available that will not permanently affect your teeth.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the process of making activated charcoal?

Carbon-rich materials are used to make activated charcoal. These include things such as wood, sawdust, peat, and coconut shells. They are burned at very high temperatures, which removes specific molecules and shrinks the pores. This effectively increases its surface area. Because of its larger surface area, it can bind to and absorb an incredible amount in comparison to its bulk.

  • How long does activated charcoal remain in your body?

Activated charcoal does not enter the bloodstream. It remains in the digestive system and is excreted in the stool. So how long it remains in your system is determined by the efficiency of your digestive system.

  • Is it safe to use activated charcoal on a daily basis?

Most likely not. Enamel may be worn away by using AC on your teeth on a daily basis. It is thought to be safe as a supplement in the short term. Long-term use is not well acknowledged.

  • How else may activated charcoal be used?

Activated charcoal is available as a supplement, face mask, and tooth-care product. Supplements are used by certain individuals to treat excessive cholesterol, renal illness, and gas. However, medical science does not support these uses.

  • What additional advantages does activated charcoal have?

The only clinically demonstrated advantage of activated charcoal is in the treatment of poisoning and drug overdose in the emergency department.

Sources

  1. https://www.verywellhealth.com/charcoal-toothbrush-5211080
  2. Juurlink DN. Activated charcoal for acute overdose: a reappraisal. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2016;81(3):482-487. doi:10.1111/bcp.12793
  3. Brooks JK, Bashirelahi N, Reynolds MA. Charcoal and charcoal-based dentifrices: A literature review. J Am Dent Assoc. 2017;148(9):661-670. doi:10.1016/j.adaj.2017.05.001
  4. Vaz VTP, Jubilato DP, Oliveira MRM, et al. Whitening toothpaste containing activated charcoal, blue covarine, hydrogen peroxide or microbeads: which one is the most effective?. J Appl Oral Sci. 2019;27:e20180051. Published 2019 Jan 14. doi:10.1590/1678-7757-2018-0051
  5. Franco MC, Uehara J, Meroni BM, Zuttion GS, Cenci MS. The effect of a charcoal-based powder for enamel dental bleaching. Oper Dent. 2020;45(6):618-623. doi:10.2341/19-122-L
  6. Thamke MV, Beldar A, Thakkar P, Murkute S, Ranmare V, Hudwekar A. Comparison of bacterial contamination and antibacterial efficacy in bristles of charcoal toothbrushes versus noncharcoal toothbrushes: a microbiological study. Contemp Clin Dent. 2018;9(3):463-467. doi:10.4103/ccd.ccd_309_18
  7. Kini V, Yadav S, Rijhwani JA, Farooqui A, Joshi AA, Phad SG. Comparison of plaque removal and wear between charcoal infused bristle and nylon bristle toothbrushes: A randomized clinical crossover study. J Contemp Dent Pract. 2019;20(3):377-384. Published 2019 Mar 1.
  8. American Dental Association. Natural teeth whitening: Fact vs. fiction.
  9. National Institutes of Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Activated charcoal. Updated November 23, 2021.

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