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Product Review – Sumigaki Charcoal Toothpaste

Today I want to review an interesting Japanese toothpaste made by Kobayashi Pharmaceutical. It’s called Sumigaki Charcoal Toothpaste, and is made with charcoal as the main active ingredient. When you put some on your toothbrush, the first reaction is “wow this toothpaste is black!” The black color is not a gimmick, but rather from the ingredient charcoal.

One of the unique things about this toothpaste is that it does not contain fluoride. A lot of Japanese tend to be cautious with chemical additives and medicines. It’s common knowledge in Japan that Japanese over-the-counter medicines are almost always weaker than their western counterparts, and Japanese are even a little scared to take western medicine for that reason when they are abroad.

Sumigaki takes this one step further and completely removes the active ingredient fluoride found in the great majority of the world’s toothpastes. So if you are like me and want to limit unnatural chemicals into your body, that is an intriguing proposition. Still, one has to wonder, maybe there is a reason almost all toothpastes use fluoride. Maybe fluoride-free toothpaste just isn’t as good, and you lose a lot in effectiveness by staying away from fluoride.

So does it work? Does Sumigaki help with bad breath and plaque buildup and everything else we use toothpaste for? In my experience, it does.

I’ve been using Sumigaki for over a year now, and I can say that it keeps my breath just about as fresh, if not a little more, than regular fluoride-containing toothpastes. I felt like Sumigaki penetrated into my mouth a little more, and with a strong menthol taste, my mouth felt really clean and fresh after brushing. Even waking up the next morning, I think my mouth felt a little fresher than I remember with regular toothpaste. The difference is not extreme, but overall Sumigaki definitely works at least as well as fluoride toothpastes for bad breath.

One of the biggest promises of Sumigaki commercials in Japan is the toothpaste’s whitening effect. I would say my teeth were pretty normal before, and after using Sumigaki, I think they did get a tad whiter over the course of a year, but it won’t be a blinding pure white like you find in toothpaste commercials unfortunately, at least in my experience.

Plaque buildup also seems like it actually improved vs my previous regular toothpaste, with my dentist mentioning that I had less plaque than he was expecting to see. Which is pretty good for a fluoride-free toothpaste I think!

One interesting thing I noticed is that Sumigaki works well as a tongue cleaning paste as well as toothpaste. This is maybe something that Japanese and other Asians are into more than Westerners. When I lived in the West, no one I knew ever cleaned their tongue. But it’s a thing here, and the charcoal seems like it works really well for that. My tongue never felt cleaner anyway!

Lastly, the taste in not bad at all for a toothpaste that contains charcoal as its main active ingredient. It has a hint of grape, and while I don’t care much about toothpaste taste, Sumigaki was perfectly fine for me.

Overall, I think Sumigaki is one of the best toothpastes on the market, and its relatively high cost compared to fluoride toothpastes is worth it, if you want to limit your fluoride intake while not compromising on tooth hygiene.

Sumigaki Charcoal Toothpaste, available all over the world through Allegro Japan

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