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Charcoal toothpaste ‘harmful’, say Australian dentists

There are a range of harmful attributes surrounding charcoal toothpaste use, according to new research, meaning such dental regimens are not all they’re cracked up to be, says the Australian Dental Association.

Used in Australia and around the world, manufacturers typically claim it whitens teeth and removes stains; however, a new report in the British Dental Journal found some products were actually harmful to teeth.

The report found that based on a previous study of 118 articles, there was “insufficient evidence to substantiate the cosmetic health benefits (antibacterial, antifungal or antiviral, reduced caries, tooth whitening, oral detoxification)”.

It also showed “possible health risks” related to the possible inclusion of human carcinogenic polyaromatic carbons in charcoal and the use of bentonite clay in some charcoal-based toothpastes, and that only 8 per cent of charcoal toothpastes contain fluoride, scientifically proven to prevent or slow the onset of dental caries.

Further, the report said that “certain forms of charcoal used in oral hygiene products have been found to have relatively high abrasivity” and “may result in the loss of tooth surface, in other words, tooth wear”. While low abrasivity is included in the claims of many of these products, “these claims have not, to date, been independently verified”.

ADA spokesperson Dr Mikaela Chinotti said that Australian dentists advise against the use of charcoal-powder or charcoal-based toothpastes to clean and/or whiten the teeth.

“These products can be abrasive and damaging to the teeth and gums and many do not contain fluoride, a key ingredient in protecting and strengthening the teeth. These products use consumer-attractive terms such as herbal, eco-friendly, natural, organic and pure. However, the health benefits of charcoal-based products remain unproven,” she said.

“Should patients wish to whiten their teeth, the ADA recommends they seek treatment by a registered dental practitioner who can advise on the best method and whether the treatment is right for them.”

Achieving good oral health and preventing tooth decay come from four good habits, Dr Chinotti continued.

“These include brushing twice daily with a fluoride containing toothpaste, flossing daily, eating a nutritious diet low in sugar, and visiting the dentist regularly where you can discuss your oral health needs,” she said.

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