Product Review: Equate’s Bamboo Toothbrush With Charcoal Bristles


As a dentist, we’re often given products by manufacturers to try out before recommending them to our patients. However, this isn’t one of those cases. This situation arose out of necessity. In a frantic hurry and while in a sleepless daze, I was scrambling to catch a flight out of the John F. Kennedy International Airport and I boarded the plane with my carry-on, but completely forgot my backpack at the terminal. Under normal circumstances, I would have noticed how light my back felt or how I now had tons of legroom from not having to shove a backpack under the seat in front of me. Instead, I got on the plane and immediately passed out from fatigue. After landing and noticing my mistake, I sorted the baggage situation with the airline employees and then started looking into replacing the toiletries that were in the bag.

Since I was now in the South (Louisiana), this naturally meant a trek to Walmart. After all, you can find everything from fish bait to lawn chairs. While pacing back and forth down the toothpaste aisle and reading the packaging for all the non-electric toothbrushes, I settled on the Equate Bamboo Toothbrush with Charcoal Bristles. The packaging mentioned that although it had charcoal bristles, it was still considered a soft toothbrush. It mentioned that the bamboo contained natural antibacterial properties preventing the buildup of bacteria. Plus, the handle will never splinter, it’s water-resistant, and it has a comfortable grip.

equate bamboo charcoal toothbrush

I was intrigued to see how charcoal, which is very abrasive and can erode tooth enamel, could be used as a “soft” toothbrush. From the start, I loved the packaging; they used cardboard instead of the usual plastic. The toothbrush handle was soft to the touch and the package came with two toothbrushes. This means that just one purchase could serve as a ‘his and hers’ set (the toothbrushes were labeled #1 and #2) or this one purchase would cover an individual for 6 months. A friendly reminder that you’re supposed to replace your toothbrush every 3 months or once the bristles are beginning to fray!

I popped some toothpaste on #1 and went to work. My preferred method of brushing is the modified bass technique. The key to this technique is preventing and controlling gum disease by brushing around and under the gumline, where bacteria and plaque tend to accumulate. You start by placing the toothbrush parallel to your teeth with the bristles toward the gums. You tilt the brush to a 45-degree angle and move the bristles slightly under the gumline. With a firm but gentle pressure, and while maintaining the bristles under the gum tissue, you use a small circular motion 15 to 20 times before moving on to the next area. The brush should cover two to three teeth at a time. You brush the entire outer surface of the teeth and then continue the same technique on the tongue side. To brush the insides of the front teeth, hold the toothbrush in a vertical position and use the bristles on the toe of the brush, but make sure they get under the gum tissue. You then brush the chewing surface of the molar teeth and finish off by brushing your tongue.

Halfway through my 2 minutes of brushing, the toothbrush bristles caught my gums in such a way that I felt like I just got stabbed. It felt as if a needle had just pricked my gums. I was stunned. I was bleeding. I gingerly continued through the rest of my brushing, trying to avoid recreating that feeling. As the days progressed, I continued to brush ever-so-softly, but I began to notice increased irritation and sensitivity. After a week, my backpack had arrived in the mail and I was able to switch back to my electric toothbrush.

Although the toothbrush claimed to be soft, my gums ruled otherwise. I don’t know if it was due to the addition of the charcoal or the toothbrush being mislabeled as soft. Either way, I would have to recommend against purchasing this toothbrush. The risk of gingival recession and enamel erosion is too high. Although I really liked the aesthetics and eco-friendly approach, I value my teeth more. So, save yourself the headache and the dental bill – avoid this toothbrush as well.