Charcoal toothpaste: Does black mean whiter teeth?

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) You can't miss the ads in fashion magazines these days; charcoal is being added to beauty products like face masks and soaps.

Now it's even being added to toothpaste, with the black color to match. Manufacturers claim it whitens teeth naturally and eliminates bad breath.

"It was actually used as far back as the Roman Times. And it kind of lost its pizzazz over time. Now again, it is resurging," says Reno dentist Greg Eissmann.

By far the biggest claim is charcoal toothpaste naturally whitens teeth. Dr. Eissmann says the abrasive nature of charcoal toothpaste can remove stains on the outside of the tooth.

But a tooth's natural color comes from the inside, and that won't be impacted by the charcoal toothpaste.

It's the abrasive nature of the toothpaste that makes it undesirable for those with veneers or inlays in teeth.

"Some of the fillings people have, especially the white filings, the edges are going to start to pick up more stain; it may also happen more around veneers where there is a cement margin," says Dr. Eissmann.

Directions say to use the product only once a week, and that's the most it should be used, Dr. Eissmann says--especially if you have sensitive teeth.

He says the American Dental Association examined more than 100 studies involving charcoal toothpaste and could find no science to back up claims made by manufacturers.

Claims the charcoal can naturally fight bacteria causing plaque are nice in theory, he says, but the toothpaste doesn't stay in the mouth long enough to have an impact.

Because the charcoal toothpastes don't contain fluoride, or at least most of them don't and they advertise it as such, Dr. Eissmann says he doesn't recommend their use by children.