By Jaime O’Neill DDS

There are a number of factors you should consider when choosing the right toothpaste for you and your family. One often overlooked consideration is the abrasive level of the toothpaste.

If this is something new to you, here’s a simple explanation. All toothpastes contain abrasive agents that clean and whiten your teeth. So, their function is important.

However, some toothpastes contain excessive amounts of abrasives which can erode the tough layer of enamel that protects your teeth. Once the enamel erodes it cannot be regenerated. Beneath the enamel is the dentin. If the dentin is exposed it will increase the sensitivity of your teeth to hot and cold and also increase the odds of tooth and gum decay.

So how do you know which toothpastes contain the most abrasive agents?

The American Dental Association [ADA] has established an abrasiveness scale. It’s called the Relative Dental Abrasivity rating for toothpastes or RDA.  The rating scale goes from 0 to 250, with 0 the least abrasive and 250 the most. The scale is divided into four levels:

  • 0-70: low abrasive
  • 71-100: medium abrasive
  • 101-150: highly abrasive
  • 151-250: harmful

You can see the entire chart here and how every toothpaste is rated.  During your next examination we would be happy to discuss whether your teeth are being negatively impacted by an over-abrasive toothpaste or perhaps something else, such as using the wrong toothbrush or improperly brushing.

Remember: In addition to using the right toothpaste for you, you’ll always want to use a soft-bristled brush and massage your teeth and gums as gently as possible.