I have to honest, the first time I heard of charcoal toothpaste I thought it was made from crushing black barbecue charcoal or from the same charcoal used to sketch drawings. To my pleasant surprise it is neither from a grill nor a pencil!
What is Charcoal Toothpaste
Charcoal powder is typically made by burning plant matter such as leaves, husks, etc. This heating process causes the charcoal produced to become powdery and porous. According to Medlineplus.gov, this results in activated charcoal which is primarily used for treating poisonings, intestinal gas, and even liver issues when taken orally.
When added to a toothpaste, the activated charcoal is able to absorb stain and even some bacteria from the teeth leading to whiter teeth.
Risk of Enamel Break Down
Toothpaste that is regulated and approved to be sold, will have a scrubbing agent or abrasive added to it. Activated charcoal itself can be a very good abrasive if controlled properly. Charcoal toothpaste that does not follow the RDA (relative dentin abrasivity) guideline, will likely be too abrasive for your teeth, scratching off your enamel over time.
Underneath your enamel is what we call the “dentin” layer. This layer is naturally yellow, so if your enamel is thin or thinning this yellow layer can become visible.
Enamel also protects your teeth from extreme temperatures like very cold water or very hot soup. Without the protective enamel layer, we can become very sensitive to these temperatures. Every person is different with the abrasivity their teeth can tolerate but the guideline scales for common toothpastes are as follows:
Toothpastes with low abrasivity are 0-70
Toothpastes with moderate abrasivity are 70-100
Toothpastes with High abrasivity are 100-150
Toothpaste beyond 150 are deemed too harmful for anyone
Risk of cavities
Whether you believe in fluoride or not, most charcoal toothpastes do not have remineralizing agents such as fluoride in them. The minerals in your teeth are stripped away daily from acids in foods. Remineralizing agents help to add the minerals back in, strengthening the teeth.
Many people using charcoal toothpaste stop using their normal toothpaste and solely rely on the charcoal product. Their teeth then miss out on the minerals and will continue to be stripped away from acid in food everyday.
How to use Charcoal toothpaste
- Make sure it is a regulated brand with a good RDA number
- Make sure it has other ingredients to help remineralize your teeth
- If it does not have similar ingredients to your normal toothpaste, use it with your normal toothpaste
- Consult your dentist to see if you already have “at risk” enamel and what brands they recommend