Charcoal-based mouthwashes: a literature review


The commercial marketplace has seen a rapid increase in the number of over-the-counter charcoal-containing mouthwashes. The purpose of this systemic review was to examine the clinical and laboratory evidence supporting therapeutic claims of efficacy and safety of use of charcoal-based mouthwashes. Secondly, the product labels and information of 36 commercially marketed charcoal mouthwashes were reviewed for active ingredients. Only 8% of charcoal mouthwashes contained an active ingredient, such as cetylpyridinium chloride or chlorhexidine. There is insufficient evidence to substantiate the therapeutic and cosmetic marketing claims of charcoal-based mouthwashes, including antimicrobial activity, anti-halitosis, tooth whitening, periodontal disease control, caries reduction and tooth remineralisation, among others. Moreover, there is no available information on charcoal particulate size or abrasivity of any of these products. Dental clinicians should advise their patients to exercise caution when using over-the-counter charcoal-containing mouthwashes because of the lack of evidence supporting therapeutic or cosmetic effectiveness as well as safety.

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The authors express their appreciation to Mr. Mark Teske for his photographic expertise in preparation of Figure 1, The Photo and Graphics Group, University of Maryland School of Medicine.

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Correspondence to John K. Brooks.

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Brooks, J., Bashirelahi, N., Hsia, Rc. et al. Charcoal-based mouthwashes: a literature review. Br Dent J 228, 290–294 (2020).

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