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Activated Charcoal Toothbrush Guide: Our Top Picks For Natural Care

Contributors:  
dental charcoal
Curious about charcoal toothbrushes?

Thinking about trying out a charcoal toothbrush? Activated charcoal has recently become popular in oral hygiene products as a natural way to whiten your teeth and detoxify your gums. So if you're reading this, you're probably wondering which charcoal-infused toothbrush is the best, or maybe whether or not it's even worth trying.

In order to help you choose the best toothbrush for your routine, we at Dentaly.org have put together this article looking at activated charcoal brushes, in which we will answer the following questions:

  • Do charcoal toothbrushes work?
  • Are they safe?
  • What is the best activated charcoal toothbrush?
  • Is there a charcoal bristle electric toothbrush?

We hope that by the time you finish reading you'll have a better idea of how activated charcoal works to whiten teeth and whether you want to give it a try. If you do, we've also written a short review of some of the best and most popular charcoal toothbrushes currently on the market. So, let's get started by looking at the benefits and whitening effects of an activated charcoal toothbrush, and if it's even safe to use.

If you're already sold on the idea of activated carbon and just want a recommendation, you should think about the Burst sonic toothbrush. It has a powerful sonic motor that lasts weeks on a single charge. It's affordable compared to similar models from other brands. Most importantly, it makes use of charcoal-infused bristles in its toothbrush heads. The heads are even replaced every three months via a subscription service.

How does an activated charcoal toothbrush work?

Activated charcoal is a substance used to treat poisoning and purify water. It's also found in beauty and health products for things such as skincare, or kidney and gastrointestinal health, among others. This is because activated charcoal is extremely porous and absorbs harmful microbes and toxins at a microscopic level.

Charcoal toothbrushes are also designed to take advantage of this effect. Their bristles aren't actually made entirely out of charcoal, but rather nylon that has been infused with charcoal. The idea behind these bristles is that they will whiten your teeth by removing stains gradually with consistent brushing.

We'll talk about the safety and effectiveness of charcoal in a bit, but this is meant to offer an alternative to potentially harmful methods to whiten teeth. You can read more about activated charcoal and how it is used in oral health in our activated charcoal article.

Are charcoal toothbrushes safe?

As always, safety is top priority. In short, hygiene products with charcoal are safe to use. People have used charcoal around the world as a detoxifying agent for many years. Doctors use it medicinally to counteract several types of poisoning. Using it for oral hygiene purposes isn't new either.

It may seem kind of crazy to think that putting coal in your mouth wouldn't be dangerous, but for years, before the dental toothpaste we all know, charcoal was one of several substances used to brush teeth. In fact, it wasn't as abrasive as other options (like salt) and therefore was less damaging to enamel.

Of course, it's not advisable to consume significant amounts of activated charcoal powder, and you should avoid inhaling it at all costs.

Do charcoal-infused toothbrushes work?

how to use charcoal toothbrush
Could charcoal be the solution to a yellow smile?

We know that it's safe to use charcoal toothbrushes, but are they good for anything? Lots of people swear by them, but there isn't much scientific research on activated charcoal's whitening effect on teeth. What's more, there have been no peer-reviewed studies focused on whitening from carbon-infused toothbrushes whatsoever.

So, we have to look at other studies for insight and, unsurprisingly, they give conflicting evidence. In a study designed to measure and compare the effectiveness of different whitening agents in toothpaste, activated charcoal showed an ability to whiten teeth. The study used teeth from cows that were stained with black tea, then measured the performance of different whitening agents after continued use. Though it was not the most effective of all, charcoal's whitening power was statistically significant.

Of course, another recent study did not find strong evidence to support charcoal whitening. This study also used bovine teeth, comparing the bleaching effect of charcoal with carbamide peroxide and regular toothpaste. It's worth noting that the study only looked at results after two weeks of brushing.

If we move outside the realm of whitening, we find an interesting study that did use charcoal toothbrushes. This study was focused on the antimicrobial properties of activated charcoal. They found that bristles infused with activated carbon had about half as much bacteria as regular toothbrush bristles after seven days of use.

Dentist's opinion on activated charcoal

Here's a video from Dr. Joe Nemeth, DDS, in which he talks a bit more about the potential risks and benefits of activated charcoal from a dental health perspective:

Using activated charcoal to whiten your teeth is the new craze! But does it actually whiten your teeth? What are the benefits of activated charcoal for teeth whitening? Are there any risks to using abrasive charcoal toothpaste? Dr. Nemeth answers these questions and more! Dr. Nemeth thinks that if it whitens your teeth significantly it could possibly be very abrasive. No long term studies about what activated charcoal does in the mouth have been completed. It could cause the enamel on your teeth to erode away, and it is likely to cause notching, or thinning of the tooth. It may also irritate the gums and cause the gum tissue to become red. Also if you have crowns, veneers, or fillings in your mouth you have to be very careful with ANY teeth whitening products. The FDA spends lots of time clearing drugs and other toothpastes. This powder certainly hasn't been cleared to be used in the mouth in any way. We don't know the long term effects of activated charcoal to whiten teeth, so Dr. Nemeth advises that you be careful and use this teeth whitening technique sparingly! If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please visit our website, https://www.drnemeth.com We are happy to help you. Joseph R. Nemeth DDS & Associates 29829 Telegraph Road #111 Southfield, MI 48034 (248) 357-3100 We DO NOT accept Medicare or Medicaid at our office. If you are a new patient, we require that a $25 deposit be made prior to your appointment in order to reserve your time. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drjosephnemeth/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/drjosephnemeth Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/drnemethdds/ The information contained in the multimedia content (“Video Content”) has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. Joseph R. Nemeth, DDS & Associates does not make any representation or warranties with respect to the accuracy, applicability, fitness, or completeness of the Video Content. Joseph R. Nemeth, DDS & Associates does not warrant the performance, effectiveness or applicability of any sites listed or linked to in any Video Content. The Video Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen on the Site. Joseph R. Nemeth, DDS & Associates hereby disclaims any and all liability to any party for any direct, indirect, implied, punitive, special, incidental or other consequential damages arising directly or indirectly from any use of the Video Content, which is provided as is, and without warranties.

If you don't want to sit through the video, here's a quick summary of what Dr. Nemeth has to say:

  • Activated carbon probably does whiten teeth. However, the effect is probably the result of abrasive qualities.
  • Excessive use of abrasives can damage enamel or irritate gums.
  • Long-term studies haven't been done so we can't say definitively how well it will work.
  • If you have crowns or veneers, they probably won't whiten as well as natural teeth.
  • It's probably best to use activated charcoal powder or toothpaste once in a while, rather than every day.
  • Use activated charcoal products carefully until more research is done on its long-term effects.

So it hasn't been definitively proven that black charcoal will whiten your teeth. Even so, some scientific evidence and traditional wisdom suggest that there could be an advantage to using a carbon infused toothbrush over a regular one.

Best charcoal bristle toothbrush

We've had a look at the safety and benefits of an activated charcoal-infused toothbrush. Now it's time to show you a few of our favorite options. For the sake of convenience we've put them into a handy table so you can get quickly get an idea:

ToothbrushTypePrice
 style=Oral-B charcoal toothbrushStandard charcoal toothbrushCheck price here
EveEco biodegradable toothbrushNatural charcoal toothbrushCheck price here
myHomeBody charcoal bamboo toothbrushCharcoal toothbrush for kidsCheck price here
Oral-B charcoal bristle electric brush headCharcoal electric brush head replacementCheck price here
Burst electric toothbrushCharcoal bristle sonic toothbrushCheck price here

If any of these brushes pique your interest, simply read on for more details on exactly why we like them.

Activated charcoal toothbrush

activated charcoal dentist
Oral-B's charcoal toothbrush

As far as standard toothbrushes go, we really like the charcoal toothbrush from Oral-B. This brush comes with extra soft charcoal bristles and an ergonomic handle. Best of all, these toothbrushes are made in the US by one of the most trusted brands in oral hygiene products.

We aren't the only ones who like it though. There are lots of users who are very happy with this charcoal toothbrush and have left reviews online to talk about their results. Here's an example:

I have fallen in love with these brushes. So much nicer then your usual tooth brush alot of times I find my gums bleeding after brushing my teeth not with these! A noticeable change in whiteness after just a few use.

A. Nicole, Amazon reviewer

If you're looking for a straightforward and affordable charcoal toothbrush, you can't go wrong with an Oral-B.

bamboo charcoal brushes
EveEco charcoal brush 12-pack

Natural carbon toothbrush

If you are interested in charcoal whitening because you want natural and ecofriendly alternatives to chemical products, you'll want to check out a natural bamboo brush from EveEco. Beyond its bristles, this toothbrush is biodegradable, made without animal products, and BPA free.

Charcoal toothbrush for kids

do charcoal toothbrushes work
Kids brushes from myHomeBody

Another similar option which is great for kids is myHomeBody's Biodegradable Kids Toothbrushes. Similar to the ones from EveEco, these are made from natural wood and BPA-free biodegradable nylon.

The difference is that they are a better size for kids' hands and mouth, and come with colorful icons on the handle so you can tell them apart.

Electric toothbrush heads with charcoal bristles

Maybe you want to try out an activated charcoal toothbrush but are deeply in love with your current electric brush and don't want to give it up. If that sounds familiar, you are in luck.

oral b charcoal toothbrush
An Oral-B charcoal head

Well, only if you have an Oral-B.

They offer charcoal bristle replacement heads that are compatible with almost all models (the main exception being their latest iO series) so you can add activated carbon into your tooth cleaning routine without even changing your brush. You can find other brands of black charcoal heads for Oral-B electric brushes that are cheaper, but we will warn you that you may void the warranty on your toothbrush base by using an off-brand head.

Unfortunately, Phillips Sonicare doesn't include a charcoal head, and there aren't currently any off-brand ones on the market. So, Sonicare users are out of luck here, but that doesn't mean there aren't any sonic brush options out there.

Burst

The Burst sonic toothbrush has become popular on social media thanks to its sleek design and subscription service. The Burst toothbrush stands out to us because it has charcoal-infused bristles. We have a full Burst charcoal toothbrush review that you are encouraged to check out, but for now we'll give you a quick summary.

The main features of Burst are:

  • 33,000 vibrations per minute
  • Black charcoal-infused bristles
  • 3 power settings
  • 4 weeks of battery life per charge
  • Replacement brush head every 90 days

Although it does not have the pressure sensors or app connectivity of high-end brushes like Sonicare DiamondClean or Oral-B iO, it is significantly cheaper for the base brush and replacement heads. It also outperforms more economical options from those brands, and as far as charcoal-infused toothbrushes go, it's perhaps the most powerful currently on the market. Burst is currently offering a 10% discount on the brush if you use code BURST10 at checkout.

Conclusion

Although there isn't definitive scientific proof that activated charcoal can whiten your teeth, it does have an established history as a purifying substance and traditional use in dental hygiene. But while we wait for more studies to be conducted, it won't hurt to try out this natural alternative to chemical whitening agents.

Between standard, electric, and natural vegan options, there are brushes available to fit into any routine. If you're interested, talk to your dentist, try an activated charcoal toothbrush, and see how it works for you!

FAQs

How do charcoal toothbrushes work?

Activated charcoal in incredibly porous, which allows it to absorb different substances very effectively on a microscopic level. For instance, it is ingested to absorb poison in the stomach. Although it is not completely confirmed by science, this porousness can theoretically absorb staining from teeth. Charcoal's abrasive qualities also contribute to this effect.

Is there a difference in how to use a charcoal toothbrush?

Charcoal bristle toothbrushes work exactly the same way as your everyday toothbrush. That said, you may want to brush carefully at first. Activated charcoal is an abrasive and could be more irritating to your gums, even if the bristles are extra soft.

Should I ask my dentist before using activated charcoal?

Activated charcoal has been used for years in various ways. If you are using a known activated charcoal toothbrush as directed, there should be no danger. Of course, if you have dental health concerns or questions, it can't hurt to ask a dentist.

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Contributors:
bob
Robert Porter
Bob Porter is from St. Paul, Minnesota, and graduated from Cornell College in 2014 with bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Spanish. Bob has worked in many settings, and currently dedicates his time to writing content in the field of dentistry. With a mind that is curious and restless by nature, he seeks a deep understanding of the topics on which he writes. When he isn’t writing about teeth, Bob can be found cycling, hiking, or tending to his garden.
Sources
The Pharmaceutical Journal:  Charcoal toothpastes: What we know so far. Consulted 21st December 2020 Drugs.com: Charcoal, activated. Consulted 21st December 2020 ncbi.nlm.nih.gov: Whitening toothpaste containing activated charcoal, blue covarine, hydrogen peroxide or microbeads: Which one is the most effective? Consulted 21st December 2020 Pubmed.gov: The effect of a charcoal-based powder for enamel dental bleaching. Consulted 21st December 2020