Why rub charcoal on your teeth? It mostly just sounds gross.
But, surprisingly, lots of people say activated charcoal helps whiten and clean their teeth.
Activated charcoal is actually not charcoal, even though it looks similar. It’s typically made of coal, coconut shells, olive pits, and other materials. It is then reheated, which oxidizes and activates it.
When this material is activated, it becomes more porous, which makes it better able to capture bad things from your teeth like plaque and bacteria.
Many people might think charcoal is a new thing, but it was actually first used in 1834 in a medical context. A doctor from the United States used activated charcoal to fight the effects of someone who consumed mercury chloride, saving the patient.
From there, people somehow realized they could put it in toothpaste to help whiten and clean teeth.
What Is A Charcoal Toothbrush?
To the naked eye, a charcoal toothbrush looks exactly like a regular toothbrush. The big difference is in the bristles — they have charcoal built into them. The idea is that when you brush your teeth with a charcoal toothbrush, the bacteria gets trapped in the bristles instead of just pushing the bacteria around.
As for the handles of charcoal toothbrushes, they vary just as traditional toothbrushes do — they can be made of wood or a plastic-rubber combo.
Charcoal Toothbrush Benefits
Charcoal toothbrushes have many of the same benefits as charcoal toothpaste. Here are some of the main benefits:
- Activated charcoal properties built into the bristles, so there’s no need for messy charcoal powder
- Absorbs plaque and bacteria rather than rubbing it across the teeth
- Helps whiten teeth
- Fights teeth stains left by things like coffee and red wine
- Can help reduce bad breath
Disadvantages Of Charcoal Toothbrush
And just like charcoal products, charcoal toothbrushes have downsides. Here are some of them:
- Can be difficult to find charcoal toothbrushes at your local drug store or supermarket because they’re relatively new
- Probably not as effective as other activated charcoal products, like toothpaste or powder
- A lot about charcoal toothbrushes is unknown — there’s not a lot of scientific evidence on its benefits or negative implications
How To Use A Charcoal Toothbrush
Basically, you use a charcoal toothbrush the same way you’d use a regular toothbrush. But here’s exactly how to do it
- Gently brush your gums and teeth, using short strokes
- Brush in sections rather than all your teeth all at once, using sweeping strokes and making sure the bristles get into every nook and cranny
- Brush your tongue
- Brush for about 2-3 minutes
- Rinse your mouth with fluoride
Every three months, you should be replacing your charcoal toothbrush, just as you would a regular toothbrush. Also, make sure to replace your charcoal brush after getting over a cold because the bristles can absorb germs, which could cause an oral infection.
Do You Use Toothpaste With A Charcoal Toothbrush?
Logically thinking, using some sort of toothpaste with a charcoal toothbrush will be even more effective than using a charcoal toothbrush alone.
You can use either traditional toothpaste or charcoal toothpaste — whatever your preference is.
Do Charcoal Toothbrushes Work?
This is the big question. Using activated charcoal for oral care is very controversial. Anecdotal evidence suggests it’s a superpower in the teeth whitening industry while scientific evidence supporting that is lacking.
Dr. Sandeep Jain is the director of Smith & Jain Dental and Implant Practice in Hong Kong. He recognizes the resurgence of using charcoal on the teeth and even admits that it could possibly be beneficial.
“In the old days, people cleaned their teeth using charcoal powder because it was abrasive, and therefore effective at removing coffee and tea stains and even plaque,” Dr. Jain tell the South China Morning Post. “And indeed, I’ve come across a few in-vitro studies that prove the ability of charcoal to remove toxins.”
But he says there’s still no evidence, no studies that show its effectiveness. He says companies assume that because activated charcoal powder has detoxifying properties then charcoal toothbrushes can too.
“Charcoal toothbrushes are a marketing ploy, in my opinion,” Dr. Jain says. “First of all, from what I understand, ‘activated’ is the key word when you’re talking about the effectiveness of these charcoal particles. If you use a toothbrush whose bristles have been infused or blended with charcoal, I’d expect that you would lose that activation after a couple of uses. Second, because no major studies have been done to actually test the cleaning or whitening effectiveness of charcoal toothbrushes, it’s difficult for me to back those claims.”
He also questions the certainty that charcoal toothbrushes actually are infused with activated charcoal. He raises the question, “Who’s to say that you’re not just using a toothbrush with black nylon bristles?”
He adds that using activated charcoal on your teeth should be done sparingly as charcoal powder especially has abrasive elements, which can damage the enamel of your teeth.
Best Charcoal Toothbrushes Ranking
Now let’s look at the best charcoal toothbrushes on the market. Because if you do decide to go this route, it could help to know where to start.
With Dental Expert’s five-pack of charcoal toothbrushes, you’ll be set for at least a year, assuming you replace your toothbrush every few months. Or you could get one pack for your whole family.
Because these toothbrushes have soft bristles, they’ll be gentle on your gums, teeth, tongue, and the inside of your mouth. This is especially good if you have a sensitive mouth and gums.
- Soft and gentle on the teeth and gums
- Can reach in between teeth better than standard bristles
- Bristles fall out with use
- One brush may last 3-4 uses
Colgate is one of the biggest and most-trusted names in the oral hygiene industry. And with their pack of three charcoal toothbrushes, you get bristles that are 17 times slimmer than a regular toothbrush. This means, they can fit between teeth and into smaller crevices.
Thousands of people have used these toothbrushes and, generally speaking, they seem happy with the results.
- Bristles are durable and stay intact
- Soft on sensitive gums and teeth
- Some users find the bristles too soft and ineffective
- Each brush lasts about a week before the charcoal runs out
With these BPA-free, vegan, sans-animal-testing, USA-made charcoal toothbrushes, Hello Oral Care promises “happiness” while brushing with them. These toothbrushes are nature-friendly, the bristles infused with bamboo charcoal, and each of the six toothbrushes come in a cool black color.
- Pleasant minty flavor
- Efficiently whitens teeth
- Can be quite messy
- Not good for sensitive teeth or gums
Honest Ninja’s zero-waste charcoal toothbrushes are made with 100% anti-plastic. The handles are made from organic wood and bamboo, making it a biodegradable and earth-friendly toothbrush. Plus, bamboo is a natural water repellent, so it’ll dry quickly, making it less likely that mildew or bacteria can grow on it.
- Cleans well between teeth and in hard-to-reach areas
- Gives you that “just visited the dentist” feeling
- Bristles are too rigid for some users
- Doesn’t show results for some people
- Activated charcoal products in general can help whiten and clean teeth.
- Charcoal toothbrushes are like normal toothbrushes except that their bristles are infused with activated charcoal.
- Charcoal toothbrushes can help whiten teeth by removing bacteria, plaque, and tartar.
- Because of the lack of scientific evidence in favor of activated charcoal products, the dental industry doesn’t yet know much about the pros and cons of these products.
- Use a charcoal toothbrush as you would a regular toothbrush, making sure to brush gently (standard toothpaste or charcoal toothpaste is optional).
- Anecdotally, charcoal toothbrushes can help whiten teeth and remove bacteria. But, scientifically speaking, there’s not enough evidence showing that they’re safe to use.
- When choosing a charcoal toothbrush out of the top options, it’s simply going to come down to your preferences.
- Always consult with your dentist before using activated charcoal products.