The True Face of Toothpaste

By Dr. Woody Wooddell, D.D.S.

Do you know the abrasiveness of your toothpaste?

Have you ever considered that you can damage your teeth by brushing them?

Dentists are seeing more tooth damage due to toothpaste abrasiveness and over-brushing.

Over time, highly abrasive toothpaste can strip away at the enamel of your teeth. Enamel never grows back, and when it wears away teeth it may become sensitive to hot, cold or sweet foods.

The Food and Drug Administration requires toothpaste makers to measure how abrasive their products are. The FDA provides the Relative Dentin Abrasivity, or RDA value for every toothpaste on the market.

Unfortunately, those values are rarely revealed on the packaging you see when you buy your toothpaste at the store.

RDA values range from zero to 250. The American Dental Association recommends using a toothpaste with an RDA value of less than 100. The FDA sets its limit at 200. The higher the RDA value, the more abrasive – and the greater likelihood of irreversible damage.

Using only your toothpaste and water gets an RDA value of 4. Brushing with baking soda is a 7. Meanwhile, Colgate 2-in-1 Tartar Control and Whitening has an RDA value of 200. A simple Internet search will provide you with the complete list of RDA values.

When it comes to toothpaste, more is not better. Excessive amounts of toothpaste coupled with forceful brushing techniques can make your toothpaste more abrasive. A pea-sized amount of toothpaste is sufficient. Often, people who brush too hard are the ones who use too much toothpaste.

Research shows that 50 percent of toothpaste abrasion occurs within the first 20 seconds of brushing. So, it’s where you begin brushing your teeth that you’ll likely find the most damage.

Enamel is thinnest along the gum line, so this is another area where the effects of toothpaste abuse are prevalent. Once the structural integrity of the tooth is compromised at the gum line, a filling may become necessary to protect it.

The American Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush every three to four months.

If you notice that your bristles have become frayed and worn within weeks, this is a sign that you’re brushing too hard and in danger of stripping away your enamel.

Electric toothbrushes are recommended because they reduce mechanical pressure on the teeth and stimulate gum tissue. Electric toothbrushes are also more effective in removing plaque.

Top dentists recommend skipping toothpaste altogether and dipping your toothbrush in a mouthwash such as Listerine to brush. Still, if you prefer toothpaste, remember to consider the product’s RDA value when selecting your toothpaste.

RDA Values of Toothpaste (abridged version) 

04 ADA reference: toothbrush and water

07 Plain baking soda

08 Arm & Hammer Tooth Powder

35 Arm & Hammer Dental Care

42 Arm & Hammer Advance White Baking Soda Peroxide

48 Arm & Hammer Dental Care Sensitive

49 Tom’s of Maine Sensitive

53 Rembrandt Original

63 Rembrandt Mint

68 Colgate Regular

70 Colgate Total

70 Arm & Hammer Advance White Sensitive

79 Sensodyne

80 AIM

83 Colgate Sensitive Maximum Strength

91 Aquafresh Sensitive

93 Tom’s of Maine Regular

95 Crest Regular

103 Mentadent

106 Arm & Hammer Advance White Paste

107 Crest Sensitivity Protection

113 Aquafresh Whitening

117 Arm & Hammer Advance White Gel

124 Colgate Whitening

130 Crest Extra Whitening

144 Crest MultiCare Whitening

150 Pepsodent

165 Colgate Tarter Control

200 Colgate 2-in-1 Tartar Control/Whitening

Abrasiveness Scale:

0-70 Low

70-100 Medium

100-150 High

Dr. Woody Wooddell and his partner, Dr. Joe Passaro, opened the doors to their dental practice in Davidsonville in 1981. In addition to caring for their patients’ dental health by offering general dentistry services, Drs. Wooddell and Passaro provide expert restorative and esthetic dental solutions. They can be reached at 410.956.5555.





Please support OutLook by the Bay with a subscription.

OutLook by the Bay magazine and this website are made possible through the support of our advertisers and subscribers. We guarantee you’ll learn something new each issue. Please subscribe today.