SOUTHWEST Fla. – Remember when lighting a grill was the first thing you thought of when you heard the word charcoal?

Not anymore! Now, activated charcoal has been dubbed “black magic” for skin care, makeup, and even toothpaste.

Some claim the dark black toothpaste is giving them whiter, brighter teeth.

“Once I’m done using it, it feels really clean on my teeth,” said Melinda Isley, a PR specialist in Fort Myers. “It almost feels like I just left the dentist’s office after getting a cleaning, and I like that a lot.”

Isley started using activated charcoal toothpaste six months ago. So far, she has no complaints, other than the mess it makes.

“You don’t want to wear anything nice when you’re brushing your teeth. It’s like spaghetti. You’re going to get it all over you, and it’s black,” Isley said.

Dentists, like Dr. Phillip Kraver, aren’t as optimistic, saying that charcoal toothpaste can actually do more harm than good to teeth. 

“They may be damaging your teeth in a way that’s irreversible,” said Phillip Kraver of Cape Dental Care. “I don’t currently recommend charcoal toothpaste to my patients, mainly because it’s not proven to be safe or effective,”

Dr. Kraver is not alone.

The Florida Dental Association told the NBC2 Investigators in a statement: 

“There is no evidence that shows dental products with charcoal are safe or effective for your teeth. While this method claims that scrubbing your teeth with ingredients like activated charcoal or charcoal paste will bring a shine back to your smile, using materials that are too abrasive on your teeth can actually make them look more yellow. Enamel is what you’re looking to whiten, but if you’re using a scrub that is too rough, you can actually wear it away.”

The NBC2 Investigators also reviewed data published in the Journal of the American Dental Association that stated there is “insufficient clinical and laboratory data to substantiate the safety and efficacy claims of charcoal and charcoal-based dentifrices. Larger-scale and well-designed studies are needed to establish conclusive evidence.”
 

We shared those findings with Isley, and it made her rethink her choice.

“I’m definitely gonna go back and do some more research, and I’m going to ask my own dentist about it,” Isley said.

Dr. Kraver said that’s something everyone should do, before they buy the next “hot” product.

“It is wise to always ask your dentist about these products,” Dr. Kraver said. “A lot of the times, the marketing precedes the science. As a dentist, when I recommend products, I really need to see the science first to make sure that it’s safe and effective.”

You can also be your own advocate by looking for this ‘ADA Seal of Acceptance’ when buying your dental products. The seal means that the American Dental Association has stamped those product as safe and effective. 
 

The NBC2 Investigators spot-checked several charcoal toothpaste products, and none of them had the ‘ADA Seal of Acceptance.’  

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