Abrasive Toothpaste Sounds Bad, But Is It Actually?

The word “abrasion” may scare you, especially when it comes to toothpaste. It’s easy to think that using abrasive toothpaste means you’ll be damaging your teeth.

And, on the one hand, if you use a toothpaste that’s too abrasive, it can damage your enamel. That’s why you may want to look into toothpaste with low abrasion.

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Why Are There Abrasive Ingredients In Toothpaste?

This is a growing question among patients, mainly because people have been experiencing discomfort with certain toothpastes. But toothpaste abrasivity is actually an important part of a successful oral hygiene routine.

The abrasive components in toothpaste help rub off stains and plaque while you brush. If a toothpaste didn’t have any abrasive contents, it wouldn’t clean your teeth. And that could lead to bacteria and plaque buildup, infections like gingivitis, and even cavities.

So the question is: how much abrasion is too much?

What Is Relative Dentin Abrasivity Scale?

Relative dentin abrasion (RDA) is a tool that helps dentists and patients measure the abrasion in a toothpaste. For example, if a toothpaste has an RDA score of 250 or under, it’s safe to use for your whole life.

The reason RDA became a thing is that back in the early 1900s, there was no way to measure how effective the cleaning powders were. Sometimes, these teeth-cleaning powders had sand or ground fish bones in them to act as the abrasive property. These powders today would have an RDA score in the thousands. In other words, they were very harmful to teeth.

Fortunately, people started to develop methods for measuring the abrasivity of this new thing called “toothpaste.” They ran tests in laboratories, using dentin, testing brush strokes, and things along those lines, eventually coming up with the RDA scale.

Toothpaste Abrasivity Chart

Below is a breakdown of the RDA value of some common types of toothpaste. These are all perfectly fine to use, with the limit (according to the American Dental Association) being 250 RDA.

Most of the RDA charts you’ll find online are all the same. They’re generic and there’s typically no sources cited. However, with our brand new chart, we sent hundreds of emails to different toothpaste producers to confirm the RDA of their product.

This is the most accurate and up-to-date RDA chart currently on the internet.

For Adults

For Kids




Note:
In some cases, a toothpaste producer did not provide us with a specific RDA number but rather a range. In these cases, we listed the highest RDA number in the range they gave us. So for example, if a producer told us the RDA was “below 250,” we’ve listed the RDA at 250.

What Is The Best Non-Abrasive Toothpaste?

So, here’s the thing: non-abrasive toothpaste doesn’t actually exist. If it did, it would be completely ineffective at cleaning your teeth.

However, if you’re worried about damaging your enamel, you can talk to your dentist to find the toothpaste with the best RDA value for your teeth. Some people have very sensitive teeth and may want to find a low-RDA toothpaste (0-70 value).

So below, we’re going to cover three toothpastes with some of the lowest RDA values on the market.

Essential Oxygen

 

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With a super low RDA of 12, Essential Oxygen is an organic toothpaste that uses essential oils and other natural ingredients to clean and brighten teeth. It uses a three-step process involving organic brushing rinse, organic toothpaste, and on-demand tooth polish.

Pros

  • Low RDA
  • Minty flavor
  • Completely organic and natural

Cons

  • Can leave a grit or film in the mouth after brushing

Weleda Salt


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Weleda Salt is another natural toothpaste that uses sea salt instead of fluoride. They say sea salt stimulates salivation, which then help with the cleaning process. The idea is that the enzymes in your saliva will “do their natural work,” along with the toothpaste ingredients, which include ratanhia root, myrrh, and chestnut bark.

Pros

  • Low RDA
  • All natural
  • Gentle on the teeth and gums

Cons

  • Taste may be off-putting
  • Contains magnesium aluminum silicate

Twin Lotus Active Charcoal Herbaliste

 
twin lotus toothpaste removing bad breath

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This toothpaste has a low RDA of 15 despite having active charcoal in it. The main purpose of it, according to Twin Lotus, is to freshen breath. But it can also help with whitening teeth and strengthening enamel protection.

Pros

  • Low RDA
  • Leaves you with that fresh and clean feeling
  • Many users praise its whitening affects

Cons

  • Pricier than other similar toothpastes
  • Teeth whitening aspect doesn’t work for everyone

Summary

If you’re looking for a non-abrasive toothpaste, they don’t actually exist. Instead, you can get a toothpaste with a low RDA value that’s gentler on your teeth. Three low-abrasion toothpastes that we recommend are Arm & Hammer Dental Care, Oxyfresh, and Tom’s of Maine Sensitive.