Brushing your teeth with abrasive (grainy or gritty thick) toothpaste helps to remove bacteria, plaque and stains from your teeth. Unfortunately, if abrasive levels of toothpaste are too high, it may also wear out the natural enamel of your teeth. Over time this can lead to the long-term damage of teeth, such as enamel erosion.
It is important to note that once enamel has eroded, it is permanently gone with no available treatment to restore it. Enamel erosion may then advance the rate of decay since the dentin layer of the tooth is exposed.
With increasing trends on social media over recent years highlighting the benefits, the Dental Health Foundation has found that abrasive ingredients such as Chalk, Charcoal or Silica are commonly included in these products. Abrasive ingredients are more often found in teeth whitening tooth paste than standard tooth paste.
Initially, individuals may begin to feel the effects of abrasiveness through increased tooth sensitivity. The sensitivity is usually experienced through temperature, acidity or sweet foods.
When used sparingly toothpaste with medium to high abrasive levels are effective in cleaning the surface stains of teeth. This is a result from removing the top layer of stains, which can make teeth appear whiter. But, frequently using such toothpaste daily or weekly can eventuate to breaking down enamel.
Comparatively, it can be similar to using sandpaper to remove the top layer of staining on a surface.
Otherwise when used sparingly, abrasive natural toothpastes such as charcoal isn’t necessarily bad and can be effective in removing stains therefore resulting in whiter teeth temporarily.
Unfortunately with popular trends and accessibility to goods internationally online, determining the abrasive levels or safety of teeth whitening products has been difficult to regulate. Particularly since new products and brands are being released constantly.
Because each individuals current oral health varies, such as enamel strength, tooth decay, or sensitivity, it is important to consult a dentist regarding whitening. Procedures of whitening can then be explained or prescribed by a dentists for what would best suite a patients needs.
Products recommended by dentists are often regulated and clinically tested. While in comparison, products purchased online aren’t scientifically tested, may not be governed by a recognized health organisation, or may not be suitable for a person’s current oral health.
Alternatively, when purchasing or researching products (depending on the country), be sure to check the Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA). This is the measurement system developed by the American Dental Association (ADA) to assess toothpaste abrasiveness. This is sometimes identified or defined on a product with an ADA Seal of Acceptance. The higher an RDA score of a product, the higher the abrasive level. A toothpastes RDA must not be higher than 250. An RDA range of 0-70 is usually safe. The RDA helps to define the long-term effects of toothpastes on your enamel.
As an example of RDA scores, research has concluded the following results based on popular Colgate Toothpastes (ref familydentisttree.com):
- Colgate Total (RDA) 70
- Colgate Sensitive Max Strength (RDA) 83
- Colgate Total Whitening (RDA) 142
- Colgate Tartar Control (RDA) 165
At the moment, Charcoal Toothpastes haven’t received the Seal of Acceptance in the US since more studies, and laboratory research is required to be performed. (ref huffingtonpost.com.au)