Charcoal toothbrushes: what are the benefits and which is the best one?

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Gemma Wheeler

(GDC Number: 83940)

You should know what a toothbrush is.

You probably know what charcoal is.

Did you know that some people now brush their teeth with charcoal?

A special type of charcoal, activated charcoal comes in a powder or a paste usually.

But now there are toothbrushes that have charcoal within the bristles.

This article explains all you need to know about charcoal toothbrushes.

For many years you probably have been and told to brush your teeth twice a day as part of your oral healthcare routine and use a fluoride based toothpaste to help clean your teeth.

However, many people are now looking at more natural toothpastes and powders that can be used in conjunction with a toothbrush and avoid a reliance on man made products.

Activated charcoal is one such product, amongst others, that has been talked about and demonstrated extensively in health and beauty circles.  You will have likely have seen or read about it.

Many who have used it have suggested benefits are gained as a result and that their teeth are cleaner and whiter, it is also normally 100% natural.

The benefits of brushing teeth with charcoal is debated amongst dental professionals.  The majority of professionals feel that brushing with charcoal is more damaging than good, as I explain in our charcoal toothpaste guide.

So, what about charcoal toothbrushes?

What is a charcoal toothbrush?

Like a conventional toothbrush, a charcoal toothbrush has a similar shape and design with bristles on the brush head.  However, the difference is that those bristles are infused with charcoal rather than being standard nylon/synthetic bristles that simply sweep and capture bacteria and debris.

Some charcoal toothbrushes have a plastic/rubber handle with the charcoal infused bristles, whilst others have a wooden, normally bamboo, handle.

The wood is a more natural option as this is biodegradable whereas the plastic is not.

The benefits of brushing teeth with charcoal toothbrushes?

The benefits of using a charcoal toothbrush are much the same as using a charcoal toothpaste or powder, the difference being rather than brushing the paste or powder around the mouth, the brush has these properties already.

Let’s be clear, these are widespread claims made by the producers of charcoal toothbrushes, the media and influencers across the internet.

There is actually very little clinical evidence to prove these claims, although there has been a couple of studies by Kaur et al and Lee et al that do show charcoal containing toothbrushes attract fewer bacteria when compared to normal toothbrushes. Whilst lack of evidence does not mean the claims aren’t true, it does mean they aren’t proven yet.

  • Absorbs plaque

Charcoal has a naturally porous formation and when used in the mouth helps absorb bacteria and debris to effectively clean the teeth and gums.

The charcoal absorbs and binds bacteria together and a microscopic level to reduce and remove from the mouth compared to a conventional toothbrush that merely scrapes and sweeps this away.

  • Reduces tooth staining/whitens teeth

Tea, coffee, red wine and smoking are just some of the better known causes for stained, aged or yellow teeth.

The activated charcoal in the bristles of the brush absorbs the tannins that bind to your teeth and cause stains.  As it removes these through regular brushing your teeth appear whiter as the contaminants that age and darken them are removed.

You can find a return to your natural colour through a more natural method, no bleaching or cosmetic dentistry required.

Charcoal is also known to be abrasive, which also helps remove the stains from the surface of teeth.

Tooth whitening is the biggest draw for many.  If you want to really understand how best to whitening your teeth, this simplified overview of whitening is a great place to start.

  • Reduces bad breath & odour

The same carbon absorbing properties that remove plaque and tannins can also remove the bacteria that cause you to suffer from bad breath.

The idea here is not to mask or overpower the natural odour produced by your mouth, but to remove the bacteria that creates the odour in the first place for a more pleasant post clean feeling for you and for those you interact with throughout the day.

The drawbacks of a charcoal toothbrush?

  • Accessibility

Whilst charcoal has a use within the medical and health industry, it has been around for a long time, it is only more recently that there has been an increased demand and awareness of the possible benefits.

The result is that at the moment, charcoal based products, particularly brushes, are not commonly found in your local supermarket or even in many health/cosmetic stores.

This is starting to change, but for the best selection, you are best purchasing from an online store.

  • Not as effective as a charcoal paste or powder

Whilst the fundamental way in which the charcoal works is at a microscopic level and would genuinely require advanced scientific equipment to really detail how and if it is working, my own personal feeling is that charcoal infused into brush bristles cannot be as effective, if at all, as a charcoal toothpaste or powder.

Brushing the teeth and gums each day with a paste or powder will offer up a higher concentration of charcoal to be effective, whereas the bristles simply can’t match that.

Not to mention that each clean would bring a new unused amount of charcoal in contact with the teeth, whereas the brush will repeatedly come into contact with this and whilst rinsed will unlikely remove all bacteria and plaque absorbed by the bristles.  So, as time passes, the brush potentially becomes less effective.  (Please note: I have no scientific evidence to support this, only assumptions based on my own thoughts and usage).

  • Long term benefits and implications unknown

Whilst activated charcoal has been around for a long time, it has never really been a mainstream product.  The demand for more natural oral healthcare products has caused an increased interest and companies are working to meet that demand.

Most dentists and hygienists would still recommend and tried and tested toothbrush and toothpaste rather than a charcoal option as no really thorough research has been completed into the long term benefits or possible damage it does or can do to the teeth, to counter the advice they have offered for years.

Suggestions are that charcoal can be abrasive, but within a bristle of a brush we are talking at such a microscopic level, it is hardly likely to be such.

Charcoal toothbrush, paste or both?

I think if you are to really get the benefit of the charcoal, using both a charcoal based paste and the brush is going to be most effective, however, this is an assumption rather than fact.

Using either independently may have its own benefits and a charcoal toothbrush can be used with a conventional paste too.

Plastic or bamboo toothbrush?

The decision is yours.

Plastic toothbrushes are generally a bit more robust and will survive the test of time longer.  That said, your brush should not be exposed to too much pressure in its life and any bamboo brush will in my opinion be more than suitable and adequate for its 3 month life.

Bamboo is 100% natural.  It decomposes after it has been disposed of whereas plastic does not.  Bamboo is without a doubt better for the environment.

Plastic comes in more colour options and is visually more appealing, more often with rubber attachments for grip, whereas bamboo is soft and shaped but does not offer the extra colour and grip placements that normal toothbrush handles do.

To date major brands have tended to stick with plastic handles whilst the more niche brands have opted for the more environmentally friendly bamboo options.

Pictured above: a bamboo charcoal toothbrush from Charbrush

The best charcoal toothbrush?

The best charcoal toothbrush is based on personal opinion and use and one user’s view might well be different to another’s.  However, having tested so many different dental products over the years here at Electric Teeth I am pretty confident that the assessments made will hold true for most and that the following are the best based on how they are made, how they feel to use, their price and their impact on the environment.

  1. Charbrush – Excellent value with various pack sizes, includes a tub of activated charcoal and offers subscription services at a discount.
  2. AOLEVA – Primarily of plastic construction they do not score well for environmental friendliness but offer very good value considering there are 5 included in the pack, 4 of which are different colours.
  3. Superdrug Charcoal Toothbrush – Simple and good value.
  4. BambooDent – Expensive when purchased on its own, cheaper if purchased in bulk, but a good quality brush with consideration for the environment.
  5. Colgate Soft Charcoal Toothbrush – Solid construction, even if of plastic, from a reputable brand.

Your feedback

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Feedback, good or bad is appreciated as are any comments that may help others that read this post.

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6 thoughts on “Charcoal toothbrushes: what are the benefits and which is the best one?”

  1. I’m a dental hygienist and was glad to read the article. If the charcoal bristles really absorb bacteria it’s worth it as long as u change the brush often. Regular nylon bristles should be replaced every 3 months. This can decrease or eliminate gingivitis. The toothpaste would be more helpful for those with disease or inflammation present

  2. As I have my own bathroom, I don’t need coloured toothbrushes and I think bamboo looks much nicer in a bathroom than cold, hard plastic. If a bathroom is shared, then colour the tips of the handles with a splash of water based paints, a dap of nailpolish or draw a smiley face with different coloured markers if you have those at home anyway. Just an idea to keep plastic at a minimum 🙂

    • Tiffany. I have yet to go hands on with this brush to be able to comment first hand.

      I have reached out to Burst to see if they can help get one to me, but have not heard back.

      I would buy and test, but currently only available in the USA and to test I require it here in the UK.

      Without having gone hands on, I am sure the brush performs all the basic elements to a more than satisfactory standard. The charcoal bristles are in my opinion unlikely to be as great or as beneficial as many may think or be led to believe.

      I will reserve full judgement to as and when I get hands on.

  3. Hello. I have a few questions in regards of the charcoal brushes. How long does it last? How long can you brush with it until there is no charcoal left on the bristles? Do you still use toothpaste with it? Is it abrasive to the enamel?
    Thank you.

    • Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for the questions.

      A charcoal brush like any other manual toothbrush would ideally be replaced every 3 months. You should use a toothpaste with the brush really as although there is charcoal ingrained into the bristles, it is the paste that makes the most contact with the teeth to help with cleaning them.

      That is a good question as to how long you can brush until there is no charcoal left and is not one that I can conclusively answer. Any will last the recommended 3 months, but how long until the charcoal is effectively no use, I can’t say. More research and information needs to be provided by manufacturers and independent groups, as this is sadly lacking.

      The argument of the abrasivity to the enamel on the teeth is one that has mixed opinions. Most dentists and hygienists would still recommend and tried and tested toothbrush and toothpaste rather than a charcoal option as no really thorough research has been completed into the long term benefits or possible damage it does or can do to the teeth, to counter the advice they have offered for years.

      Suggestions are that charcoal can be abrasive, but within a bristle of a brush we are talking at such a microscopic level it is abrasivity will be limited compared to a paste or powder used directly on the teeth.

      I hope that helps.

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