Claims of Safety, Oral Benefit of Charcoal Dentifrice Usage Remain Unproven

Newswise — BALTIMORE, MD   The growing visibility of charcoal and charcoal-based dentifrices, including many that are offered for sale on the Internet, raises questions about the re-emerging practice of brushing teeth with products containing charcoal. A literature review in the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry (UMSOD) concludes that dental practitioners are urged to educate their patients about unproven claims of oral benefit and safety when using charcoal and charcoal-based dentifrices. These include potential increased risks of developing caries with the use of these nonfluoridated or possibly charcoal-inactivated fluoride products.

The paper, “Charcoal and Charcoal-based Dentifrices, A Literature Review,” was published in June online ahead of print by JADA, which does so to enable readers to access findings in dentistry without delay. The results of the literature review “showed insufficient clinical and laboratory data to substantiate the safety and efficacy claims of charcoal and charcoal-based dentifrices,” said authors John K. Brooks, DDS, clinical professor in the Department of Oncology and Diagnostic Sciences; Nasir Bashirelahi, PhD, professor in the department; and Mark A. Reynolds, DDS, PhD, professor in the Department of Advanced Oral Sciences and Therapeutics.

“Recently, use of charcoal-based toothpastes has gained popularity in the marketplace. However, there is insufficient scientific evidence that these products effectively promote tooth whitening, oral detoxification, or provide any therapeutic properties (antibacterial, antifungal, or antiviral),” said the lead author, Dr. Brooks.

Furthermore, Dr. Brooks noted the review showed “unproven claims of safety,” particularly in regard to the principal ingredient, charcoal, and in some products, to bentonite clay. The latter belongs to a heterogeneous group of clays with various industrial…

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