Is Charcoal Teeth Whitening Safe?

person brushing teeth with charcoal toothpaste

From Christina, Dental Hygienist:

Charcoal toothpastes have gained the attention of most patients, especially at big name stores like Target. Websites like Pinterest are stocked full of tooth whitening charcoal DIY recipes. But does charcoal actually whiten our teeth and is it safe to use?

Does Charcoal Toothpaste Work?

As a dental professional, I look at evidence-based practice to determine if a product is safe and effective for use. At this point, there isn’t a lot of research that has been done on charcoal as a dentifrice (aka toothpaste). We know that charcoal is negatively charged, therefore, it tends to attract toxins and gases. This can be helpful for medical purposes that include overdoses or ingestion of harmful poison. Is this true for teeth, too? The thought process is that charcoal will adhere to plaque and periodontal bacteria that lurks in our mouths and make for a healthier, whiter smile. There hasn’t been any substantial evidence to prove that it actually does this, yet.

Is Charcoal Teeth Whitening Safe?

One thought about charcoal toothpaste is that it has abrasive properties that help to remove surface stain and smooth a tooth surface so plaque can’t stick to it. Although, this sounds ideal for our pearly whites, it can have serious long-term consequences which include a list of recession, abfractions, erosion and dental sensitivity.

Always check for a relative dental abrasive number. Many toothpastes don’t disclose this on the tube so you may have to call the manufacturer to get an answer. Be sure to stick to a toothpaste with a relative dental abrasive (RDA) level of 70 or below. Repeated, long-term exposure to a RDA level greater than 70 can lead to and worsen the conditions listed above.

In summary, the charcoal tooth whitening sensation hasn’t been proven or disproven. It needs to be studied further. Can you try is? Absolutely! In moderation. Please check the RDA level and discontinue if you experience any discomfort or your dental professional notices any changes in your oral health.

What are the Alternatives to Charcoal Teeth Whitening?

Other alternatives that are proven include Crest Whitestrips and Opalescence Whitening Systems. These solutions have a peroxide that contacts the tooth long enough to penetrate into dentin. Dentin is where our tooth color comes from. These are safe and have been studied, proven to whiten. Avoiding dark sodas, coffee or tea can also help to prolong any whitening that is accomplished.

If you want a whiter smile, we’re happy to help you find the best at-home product that won’t damage your teeth. Call us at 507-288-1188 or request an appointment today.


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Family Dentist Tree is a family-oriented dental office located in Rochester, MN. Whether you need a cleaning, filling, crown, root canal, treatment for gum disease, or teeth whitening, we are here to help you with all your dental needs. We serve all ages, and our offerings include including family dental care and senior plans. Request an appointment online or call us at 507-288-1188.