DENTIST Dr Nigel Carter asks whether natural ingredients such as charcoal and coconut oil can really protect against decay. Choosing a toothpaste used to be a simple task.

But with more than 50 different products to be found on our supermarket or pharmacy shelves, it’s no wonder that consumers are confused about what is best for their teeth.

Alongside the standard fluoride pastes there are products that claim to whiten, others for sensitive teeth, ones that tackle tartar, bubblegum-flavoured brands aimed at children and, most recently, those that use alternative ingredients such as coconut, sea salt and charcoal.

Charcoal toothpaste is one of the latest natural tooth-care products, lauded for its potential tooth-whitening properties, and many celebrities are queueing up to endorse it.

Critics argue that fluoride causes mottled teeth, brittle bone disease and affects the nervous system.