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.

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.

ToothpasteRDA Value
Arm & Hammer Dental Care35
Tom’s of Maine Sensitive49
Arm & Hammer Peroxicare49
Rembrandt Original53
Tom’s of Maine Children57
Colgate Regular68
Colgate Total70
Colgate Sensitive Max Strength83
Aquafresh Sensitive91
Tom’s of Maine Regular93
Crest Regular95
Sensodyne Extra Whitening104
Colgate Platinum106
Crest Sensitivity107
Colgate Herbal110
Aquafresh Whitening113
Arm & Hammer Tarter Control117
Arm & Hammer Advanced White Gel117
Close-Up with Baking Soda120
Colgate Whitening124
Ultra Brite130
Crest MultiCare Whitening144
Colgate Baking Soda Whitening145
Colgate Tarter Control165
FDA Recommended Limit200
ADA Recommended Limit250

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.

Arm & Hammer Dental Care


Check The Latest Price

Coming in at 35 on the RDA scale, Arm & Hammer Dental Care is our first good option for a low-abrasion toothpaste. It actually has the lowest RDA value out of these three, so if you have sensitive teeth, this might be your best option.

This is a baking soda-based toothpaste, one of the oldest types of toothpaste out there. Thanks to the abrasiveness of the baking soda and the fluoride included in it, it scrubs your teeth clean of bacteria and stains.



Check The Latest Price

Oxyfresh has an RDA value of 45, and dentists have been recommending it for over 30 years. If you’re also concerned about potentially toxic ingredients, this toothpaste has no artificial components (like parabens and saccharin sulfate), instead using things like essential oils. It does include fluoride, which helps fight off plaque and fortify your teeth.

Tom’s of Maine Sensitive


Check The Latest Price

Tom’s of Maine Sensitive toothpaste has an RDA value just above Oxyfresh at 49. It, too, is a natural toothpaste that has toothpaste and it’s great for sensitive teeth.


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.