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Breaking Down Research Articles (Part 1): Charcoal and Teeth Whitening

Author: Katie MacMillan

So we all know science is cool (right?), but research articles can be hard to read. In part one of this series, we will be breaking down a 2020 paper written by Palandi et al.

The effectiveness of charcoal-based products in whitening teeth has been questioned for a while. These researchers investigated whether or not charcoal powder is effective at whitening teeth when combined with either regular or whitening toothpaste.

The effects of charcoal in whitening teeth would be compared against teeth whitened by carbamide peroxide, which is known to lighten teeth.

Interestingly enough, a brushing machine was used on samples of teeth to simulate regular brushing. These teeth were first stained using black tea (so that’s probably something to avoid if you’re trying to keep your smile bright!).

The results of the experiment showed that charcoal was not effective at whitening teeth, and that carbamide peroxide was effective. Therefore, you’re likely better off using scientifically proven whitening methods instead of charcoal toothpaste or products!


Palandi, S. D. S., Kury, M., Picolo, M. Z. D., Coelho, C. S. S., & Cavalli, V. (2020). Effects of activated charcoal powder combined with toothpastes on enamel color change and surface properties. Journal of Esthetic and Restorative Dentistry, 32(8), 783-790.


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