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Charcoal toothpaste has gained popularity over the past several years, and you can find it in everything from beauty blogs to social media posts to the toothpaste aisle of your favorite store.
At first glance, you might be caught off guard when you see images of people brushing their teeth with a black substance and wonder what that can do for your teeth. Having something so dark on your pearly whites might seem very counterintuitive, but there are truly some benefits to brushing your teeth with a trusted brand of Charcoal Toothpaste.
To better understand the benefits, it is worth diving into the history and research behind this popular ingredient.
What Is Activated Charcoal?
If you are eyeing up the sack of charcoal by your grill and thinking you’d never put it anywhere near your mouth, don’t worry. Activated charcoal is very different from the charcoal we use for cooking.
According to the National Capital Poison Center, activated charcoal is made by burning carbon-rich materials (such as coconut shells, wood or sugar) at very high temperatures. Then, the resulting charcoal is activated by exposing it to an oxidizing gas.
The process creates a fine black powder that is extremely porous. This gives it a huge surface area. This large surface area is what makes activated charcoal so effective in removing toxins and poisons from our systems. It binds to the dangerous substances, preventing them from being absorbed by our guts. This lets our bodies get rid of the toxins before they can cause harm.
As a result, this powerful substance has been used in hospitals for over two centuries to combat poisoning and remove toxins.
What Is Activated Charcoal Used For?
As we’ve seen, one of the best-established uses for activated charcoal is removing drugs and toxins from our bodies.
Doctors have used activated charcoal to treat poisoning and drug overdoses since the early 1800s. In 1811, a French chemist called Michel Bertrand gave a dramatic demonstration of its effectiveness by consuming arsenic and charcoal at the same time. The results? The charcoal helped him avoid harm from the poisonous arsenic by absorbing it and removing it from his system.
Since then, there’s been plenty of research to show that activated charcoal is a safe and effective defense against many toxic substances.
With luck, most of us won’t need to take activated charcoal in an emergency. But it has other uses and benefits that are of interest on a more regular basis.
1. Removing Toxins From Water
Sadly, the water we drink isn’t always as safe as we’d like. Research has found that our tap water is often contaminated with dangerous levels of fluorinated substances (PFAS), as well as heavy metals like lead and arsenic.
Charcoal filtration systems have become popular for removing heavy metals and fluoride from our drinking water. These toxic substances can build up in our bodies and disrupt our hormones, causing health issues.
The Environmental Working Group says that activated carbon filters are one of the most effective systems for removing toxins from our drinking water.
2. Combatting Bad Breath
The porous nature of activated charcoal is good for absorbing more than just toxins. There’s evidence that it also helps to reduce unpleasant odors by binding the small compounds that cause the smell.
Although this effect hasn’t yet been widely studied, there has been some research into people suffering from trimethylaminuria, which is a condition that causes breath and sweat to smell fishy.
A 2011 study reported that treating the condition orally with activated charcoal caused a noticeable decrease in this odor. While this study was small, anecdotal evidence from people who use charcoal toothpaste or mouthwash suggests that charcoal might help to prevent bad breath.
3. Beauty and Personal Care
With its ability to remove toxins, it is no wonder that activated charcoal is found in everything from face masks to cleansing soaps.
Putting such a strongly colored substance on your face (or teeth) can be alarming at first. However, charcoal washes off easily. Its abrasive properties make it a good option for exfoliating your skin too. And its ability to absorb bad smells means it is becoming more common as an ingredient in natural deodorants.
Look for products that use charcoal made from coconut shells or wood instead of the more environmentally damaging peat or coal.
Charcoal In Dental Care
The idea that activated charcoal might also be effective for dental care is not a new one, as charcoal has been used as a natural toothpaste for thousands of years.
The ancient Greeks and Romans both used charcoal to clean their teeth, making use of its abrasive properties. Even much later, as commercial toothpastes were beginning to emerge in the late 1800s and early 1900s, charcoal remained a common ingredient.
Charcoal’s popularity for cleaning teeth diminished during the 20th century as clever marketing tactics, and a preference for laboratory-made ingredients took over. But it is now seeing a resurgence, as many of us come to realize that the ingredients in conventional toothpaste might not be as good for us as we had hoped.
Whitening Our Teeth?
One of the reasons that this historic dental care ingredient is seeing a return to popularity is that it is thought to help whiten teeth naturally.
Research published in the Journal of Applied Oral Science in 2019 found that charcoal toothpaste, when used continuously, was effective in whitening teeth.
Similarly, a 2020 study looked at the effect of charcoal toothpaste on human teeth (as opposed to the cows’ teeth used in many studies). The researchers found that the charcoal toothpaste did have a whitening effect on human teeth.
While conventional whitening toothpastes claim to be more effective, they also contain harmful chemicals that can impact our health. You can learn more about the toxic ingredients lurking in many oral hygiene products in our post here.
We'd all prefer to use a safe toothpaste that doesn’t contain substances that are dangerous to our health, right?
Why We Use Activated Charcoal in Our Toothpaste
We created Wellnesse to provide our family and yours with safe, effective personal care products. We started with our remineralizing Whitening Toothpaste. Powerful ingredients like green tea, neem oil, and hydroxyapatite quickly made it a household favorite.
Still, we are always looking for opportunities to improve and better meet your needs. Activated charcoal has taken the natural health industry by storm the last few years and has been incorporated into countless health and beauty products, but not always in the best way. Our goal was to find a way to harness the power of this ‘new’ ingredient without compromising the integrity of the products you know and love.
Enter: Wellnesse Charcoal Toothpaste. This new formula boasts many of the same powerhouse ingredients as our original toothpaste, but with the extra detoxifying boost. Our activated charcoal is sourced responsibly from burned coconut shells and binds to the toxins in the mouth to give you a truly deep clean. To top it off, it pairs perfectly with our Whitening Toothpaste, making for the ultimate oral care duo. You won’t want to miss it. Shop now!
ScienceLine, The gray area of charcoal toothpaste
The National Capital Poison Center, Activated Charcoal: An Effective Treatment for Poisonings
Juurlink D. N. (2016). Activated charcoal for acute overdose: a reappraisal. British journal of clinical pharmacology, 81(3), 482–487. https://doi.org/10.1111/bcp.12793
Ferner R. E. (2001). Our poisoned patients. QJM : monthly journal of the Association of Physicians, 94(3), 117–120. https://doi.org/10.1093/qjmed/94.3.117
Andrews, D. Q., & Naidenko, O. V. (2020). Population-Wide Exposure to Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances from Drinking Water in the United States. Environmental Science & Technology Letters, 7(12), 931-936. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.estlett.0c00713
The Guardian, We sampled tap water across the US – and found arsenic, lead and toxic chemicals
The Environmental Working Group, Removing Toxic Fluorinated Chemicals From Your Home’s Tap Water
Mackay, R. J., McEntyre, C. J., Henderson, C., Lever, M., & George, P. M. (2011). Trimethylaminuria: causes and diagnosis of a socially distressing condition. The Clinical biochemist. Reviews, 32(1), 33–43.
Palandi, S., Kury, M., Picolo, M., Coelho, C., & Cavalli, V. (2020). Effects of activated charcoal powder combined with toothpastes on enamel color change and surface properties. Journal of esthetic and restorative dentistry : official publication of the American Academy of Esthetic Dentistry ... [et al.], 32(8), 783–790. https://doi.org/10.1111/jerd.12646
Vaz, V., Jubilato, D. P., Oliveira, M., Bortolatto, J. F., Floros, M. C., Dantas, A., & Oliveira Junior, O. B. (2019). Whitening toothpaste containing activated charcoal, blue covarine, hydrogen peroxide or microbeads: which one is the most effective?. Journal of applied oral science : revista FOB, 27, e20180051. https://doi.org/10.1590/1678-7757-2018-0051