What Is a Charcoal Toothbrush and Why Should I Use One?

By Maureen Wise in Natural Products

Have you seen toothbrushes with black bristles for sale at your local grocery lately? Are you wondering what these are all about? Simply put, they're charcoal toothbrushes with activated charcoal infused right into the bristles. How can a charcoal toothbrush improve your dental hygiene? We're glad you asked!

Charcoal Benefits for Teeth

Charcoal has long been used as a cleaner, absorber, and whitener. You may think of charcoal as black and dirty, so this may not immediately make sense—but activated charcoal is not the same product we use when grilling veggie kebabs. Activated charcoal is made from finely ground natural materials such as wood, olive pits, sawdust, coconut shells, and peat. Manufacturers heat it much hotter than grilling charcoal and treat it with steam or oxygen, which changes its internal structure and increases its surface area. The resulting charcoal product has strong absorption and whitening properties.

The Western Journal of Medicine reports that doctors in the 1800s used activated charcoal to absorb ingested poison. Today, the Mayo Clinic encourages readers with poisoning concerns to consume activated charcoal from their local pharmacy. The idea is that the poison will bind to the charcoal and be removed through the digestive system. Activated charcoal can also be used to purify water, exfoliate skin, and even remove impurities from sugar, according to ResearchGate. Ancient Romans used it to clean their teeth, too!

woman holding charcoal toothbrush with wooden handle on front of her mouth, eyes not visible

How Do Charcoal Toothbrushes Work?

The charcoal that is contained within charcoal toothbrush bristles can help to whiten teeth and remove plaque. As previously discussed, activated charcoal can absorb poison, and it can absorb bacteria and tannins that stain the teeth as well. It binds to these unwanted substances on a microscopic level into the bristles, removing them from the teeth. One study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that people who brushed with charcoal-infused toothbrushes significantly reduced bacteria levels in their mouths compared with study participants who used common nylon-bristled brushes.

These same absorbing abilities help to get rid of plaque better than your standard toothbrush. More research from the NIH shows that users who brushed with charcoal-infused toothbrushes had significantly less plaque than their study-mates who used nylon brushes. Both of these studies also found that charcoal toothbrush heads don't wear out as easily as nylon bristled toothbrushes. Charcoal toothbrushes can really aid in natural dental health!

reduce reuse recyle written with a fountain pen on white paper next to a succulent

Your Toothbrush's Lifespan

In addition to dental hygiene, consider what happens when your toothbrush is no longer useful. Some manufacturers make charcoal toothbrushes with a wooden handle. These toothbrushes can often be composted once the bristles are removed. Tom's of Maine charcoal toothbrushes can be recycled through the TerraCycle program. For those that can't be recycled, never underestimate the value of reusing toothbrushes for detailed cleaning jobs around the house.

Want to know more about how charcoal is used in oral care products? Discover charcoal toothpaste and how it can enhance your oral care routine.

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The views and opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Tom's of Maine.

Why It's Good

Activated charcoal has been used for centuries for its superior absorbing and whitening properties. Making use of old personal care techniques helps to honor the past while embracing the science of the present.