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Effects of charcoal-based whitening toothpastes on human enamel in terms of color, surface roughness, and microhardness: an in vitro study



Charcoal based oral care products have gained popularity in the last few years. The aim of this in vitro study was to compare the effects of different charcoal based whitening toothpastes on color, surface roughness and microhardness of human enamel.

Materials and methods

Forty-eight specimens obtained from human permanent upper incisor teeth were randomly divided into 4 groups(n=12):Group-1:Colgate Total 12(CT); Group-2:Body Kingdom(BK); Group-3:Black is White(BW), Group-4:Colgate optic white(COW). Following 4 days cycle of darkening(2-min chlorhexidine and 60-min black tea per day), a 12- week brushing(twice daily for 1 min)was performed. Color of specimens was measured using a spectrophotometer. A contact type profilometer was used to measure surface roughness (Ra) and Vicker's hardness tester was used for the changes in microhardness(VHN). A representative sample from each group was visualized by SEM. Data were analyzed by One-way ANOVA, Welch, Fisher's, Kruskall-Wallis, Wilcoxon Sign Rank and Paired t-tests(p<0.05).


After 12- week brushing, no differences were found among the groups in terms of color change(p=0.989). All toothpastes tested showed no clinically acceptable whitening performances. A substantial increase in surface roughness was found in all groups, except BW(p<0.05). An increase was found in microhardness with CT(p=0.013), while no changes were found with BK, BW and COW(p>0.05).Only few scratches were observed on the enamel surfaces by SEM evaluations.


Twelve week brushing with charcoal based whitening toothpastes and a regular fluoridated toothpaste presented similar effects in color of enamel. Surface roughness was increased(except BW) while microhardness was not affected(except CT) with charcoal based whitening toothpastes.

Clinical relevance

Charcoal based whitening toothpastes do not promise to whiten the human permanent teeth and their effects on enamel abrasion should not be disregarded.

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Correspondence to Uzay Koc Vural.

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This article does contain studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Koc Vural, U., Bagdatli, Z., Yilmaz, A.E. et al. Effects of charcoal-based whitening toothpastes on human enamel in terms of color, surface roughness, and microhardness: an in vitro study. Clin Oral Invest 25, 5977–5985 (2021).

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  • Tooth whitening
  • Whitening toothpaste
  • Charcoal
  • Charcoal toothpaste