Tooth enamel is one of the toughest organic substances on earth, protecting the crowns of teeth from damage. Nevertheless, even enamel wears away over a lifetime, but hopefully not due to your toothpaste! You may realize that most toothpastes contain abrasive material (usually a certain amount of silica). A slight amount of abrasiveness helps toothpaste remove plaque, bacteria and stains from your teeth. Yet, since the last thing we want is to damage the enamel with toothpaste, years of research have studied how toothpaste abrasiveness affects tooth enamel. That is why the American Dental Association (ADA), along with other agencies, created the Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA) scale.
How the Abrasivity Scale Works
Toothpastes are ranked on scale from 0 to 250, zero being non-abrasive and 250 being harmful and abrasive enough to cut dentin, the softer material below the enamel. Most toothpastes range from 100-150 on this scale. Children’s toothpastes and pastes for treating tooth sensitivity rank below 100. Whitening toothpastes are more abrasive and generally rank closer to 250 on the RDA scale. Still, the ADA says,“clinical evidence supports that lifetime use of proper brushing technique with a toothbrush and toothpaste at an RDA of 250 or less produces limited wear to dentin and virtually no wear to enamel.”
This highlights the importance of using a toothpaste with the ADA seal of approval. A toothpaste must be at 250 or below to be approved by the ADA. Using “proper” brushing technique, you should not damage your enamel with these toothpastes. That implies that you are not brushing too long, or too often. Two minutes for each brushing and two times a day are recommended by the ADA. Most people brush in the morning and before going to bed, and certainly you may brush your teeth after lunch. Beyond this may start to become excessive. Talk to one of our Sacramento dentists if you desire further advice about toothpaste, toothbrushing and your enamel.