Abrasive Toothpaste Sounds Bad, But Is It Actually?

Creative Commons

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.

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, theses 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.

For Adults


For Kids


So, What Is The Best Non-Abrasive Toothpaste?

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).


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.

Leave a Comment