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Many patients come to the office seeking answers for whether they should be using charcoal-based toothpastes as a HERBAL alternative to the standard fluoride-containing toothpastes.

The short-answer is: Avoid these charcoal-based toothpaste products and stick with your regular fluoride-containing toothpaste that has the ADA SEAL.

In September 2017, an article was published in the Journal of American Dental Association to help validate this recommendation. See link below to read this article. Currently, there are about 50 different types of brands that advertise charcoal-based toothpaste

  1. 48 of them advertised a whitening effect

  2. 23 of them advertised a detoxification effect

  3. 22 of them advertised a antibacterial or antiseptic effect

  4. 15 of them advertised ability to remineralization, strengthen, or fortify the teeth

  5. 14 of them advertised a low abrasive or gentle to enamel effect

Potential risks of charcoal use

  1. Cytotoxic effects of charcoal

    1. Lump charcoal analysis reveals presence of 15 polyaromatic hydrocarbons. Alarmingly, 4 of these polyaromatic hydrocarbons are listed in the 2016 National Toxicology Program database as “reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens.”

    2. There is a concern for the bentonite clay listed in 19 of the charcoal-based dentifrices. Bentonite clay contains crystalline silica and Inhaled crystalline silica is regarded as a human carcinogen and its utility and safety in toothpaste have not been established.

    3. Charcoal has been recognized as an abrasive mineral to the teeth and gingiva and its inclusion in toothpastes raises concern about damage to these oral structures, as well as increasing caries susceptibility due to the potential loss of enamel.

    4. None of the 50 products contain the ADA SEAL.

About 25 of the available charcoal-based dentifrices advertised as being able to detoxify the oral cavity or teeth. The review article could not find any scientific support in the literature that topical application of charcoal can provide any detoxification benefits to the teeth or oral mucosa.

Also, 22 of the charcoal-based toothpastes promoted antibacterial properties, although there are no reports in the literature to support this therapeutic benefit.

Overall, it appears clear that although charcoal-based toothpastes are widely available today on the market, it is important to understand that very limited literature supports their use as an IDEAL TOOTHPASTE for the mouth. Rather, fluoride-containing toothpastes with the ADA seal are the ideal toothpaste to keep your mouth clean while having the least amount of potential side effects.

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