Among the earliest lessons we are taught is to brush and floss our teeth, which we later realize means consistently. These simple acts maintains a clean oral environment by preventing plaque and tartar from accumulating, dislodging lingering food debris, and removing minor stains from your teeth. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), toothpaste’s effectiveness at achieving these goals depends in large part on its level of abrasion–a quality whose exact measurement has been difficult to obtain until recently. Your Waco dentist, Dr. Locke, explains abrasion and the research that allows us to look more closely at how your toothpaste interacts with your teeth.

The Effectiveness of Abrasion

Abrasiveness refers to the amount of friction created by rubbing or scraping. In dental terms, it refers to how roughly your toothpaste scrubs your teeth. Our ancestors understood the benefits of clean teeth, and early toothpastes contained abrasive materials including salt, chalk, ground shells, and crushed bones. Today, one of the most common dental abrasives is baking soda, which can be found in most toothpastes and is often used by itself to clean teeth.

As with most good things, too much abrasion can be more harmful than helpful to your oral health. Excessive scrubbing can wear away your tooth enamel, which does not contain living cells and cannot regenerate itself. Too much abrasion is especially dangerous to the soft tissue underneath the enamel–dentin.

Measuring Abrasion

Given the importance and potential harm of abrasion to the health and cleanliness of your teeth, it should come as no surprise that there is a method to measure the abrasiveness of toothpaste. The current standard procedure involves measuring the RDA (radioactive dentin abrasion) by brushing the product over radioactively marked dentin, and then measuring the radiation intensity of the product. The validity of these measurements, however, is not universally accepted, and results are not always consistent from lab to lab. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Halle, however, may have changed that by using a complicated process that allows them to study abrasion on a microscopic level. While measuring the friction value of different toothpastes, the scientists were also able to measure the effect of the bristles on dental enamel.

Keeping Your Mouth Clean

Measuring the exact effect of abrasion will allow you to make a more informed decision regarding what toothpaste to use. However, it does not change the fact that you should continue to brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day, regardless of your dental hygiene brand of choice. To learn more about protecting your oral health, schedule a consultation with Dr. Corbet Locke by calling our Waco dental office at (254) 776-4888. We welcome patients from Waco, Woodway, McGregor, Hewitt, and surrounding communities.