Selecting a Toothpaste for Electric BrushingFeb 21, 2003 (Updated Dec 6, 2005) Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in Personal CareThe Bottom Line Electric toothbrush users should know their toothpaste's abrasivity index. Using a less-abrasive toothpaste will avoid long-term tooth damage.
[does this review seem off topic? I agree it is, but for lack of a better category, a couple of epinion advisors suggested placing it here...]
When using an electric toothbrush, it becomes extra-important to pay attention to the abrasivity of your toothpaste. Electric toothbrushes are not harsh by themselves, but the fact is that 2-minutes of electric brushing results in many more brush strokes than 2-minutes of manual brushing. The combination of high-abrasiveness and extra brush strokes can excessively wear down your teeth.
Therefore, powered toothbrush users should be careful to identify and choose a less-abrasive toothpaste than they would ordinarily use with a manual toothbrush.
All toothpastes do some mechanical (in contrast to chemical biological) cleaning, making them inherently abrasive. They get this abrasivity from grit.
Toothpaste manufacturers have total freedom to raise/lower their abrasivity. They can change the amount of grit. They can change the size of the grit. They can change the hardness of the grit.
And the most significantly they can change the nature of the grit. For example, Amway patented a round grit, while Colgate recently patented a highly-jagged grit. Which makes better toothpaste I do not know. The bottom line is selectivity -- some grit may be relatively abrasive to plaque, while being relatively non-abrasive to enamel. The two don't always correlate. Toothpaste researchers are looking for the perfect grit that can remove lots of plaque while hardly removing enamel.
But overall, toothpaste makers will play with all factors (grit shape, hardness, concentration, size, type) to make their toothpaste as abrasive as they like.
Instead of taking a manufacturer's word that their toothpaste "gently polishes your teeth," go by the abrasivity index.
Toothpaste abrasivity is measured using an ADA-standardized test. A laboratory takes a sample tooth, strips the enamel, irradiates it, brushes it, and measures the radiation in the rinsewater. The result is a number known as RDA which stands for radioactive dentin abrasion or relative dentin abrasivity. In general, the lower the number, the less enamel/dentin gets worn away. The higher the number, the more enamel/dentin gets worn away. The higher the number, the better the stain-removal too (usually).
Unfortunately for consumers, RDA values are not widely known. Toothpaste manufacturers (with the exception of Colgate-Palmolive and some obscure brands) do not advertise them. So, I did some hunting for RDA values and my findings are here:
Abrasivity of common toothpastes:
RDA - Dentifrice brand and variety
04 ADA reference toothbrush and plain water
07 plain baking soda
08 Arm & Hammer Tooth Powder
30 Elmex Sensitive Plus
35 Arm & Hammer Dental Care
42 Arm & Hammer Advance White Baking Soda Peroxide
44 Squigle Enamel Saver
48 Arm & Hammer Dental Care Sensitive
49 Arm & Hammer Peroxicare Tartar Control
49 Tom's of Maine Sensitive (given as 40's)
52 Arm & Hammer Peroxicare Regular
53 Rembrandt Original ("RDA")
54 Arm & Hammer Dental Care PM Bold Mint
57 Tom's of Maine Children's, Wintermint (given as mid-50's)
63 Rembrandt Mint ("Hefferren RDA")
68 Colgate Regular
70 Colgate Total
70 Arm & Hammer Advance White Sensitive
70 Colgate 2-in-1 Fresh Mint (given as 50-70)
83 Colgate Sensitive Maximum Strength
91 Aquafresh Sensitive
93 Tom's of Maine Regular (given as high 80's low 90's)
94 Rembrandt Plus
94 Plus White
95 Crest Regular (possibly 99)
101 Natural White
103 Arm & Hammer Sensation
104 Sensodyne Extra Whitening
106 Colgate Platinum
106 Arm & Hammer Advance White Paste
107 Crest Sensitivity Protection
110 Colgate Herbal
110 Amway Glister (given as upper bound)
113 Aquafresh Whitening
117 Arm & Hammer Advance White Gel
117 Arm & Hammer Sensation Tartar Control
120 Close-Up with Baking Soda (canadian)
124 Colgate Whitening
130 Crest Extra Whitening
133 Ultra brite
144 Crest MultiCare Whitening
145 Ultra brite Advanced Whitening Formula
150 Pepsodent (given as upper bound)
165 Colgate Tartar Control (given as 155-165)
168 Arm & Hammer Dental Care PM Fresh Mint
175 Colgate Luminous (given as 150-200)
200 Colgate 2-in-1 Tartar Control/Whitening or Icy Blast/Whitening (given as 190-200)
200 FDA recommended limit
250 ADA recommended limit
Powered toothbrush users should avoid toothpastes from near the bottom of the list. Long term use of such toothpastes might wear down your enamel.
Consumer Reports has evaluated toothpastes (Aug 1998), but they made the error of considering only stain removal, not abrasion. Thus, high-abrasivity toothpastes such as Ultra brite received the highest ratings. Consumer Reports' test essentially measured abrasivity, and their conclusions ignored the problem of too much abrasivity. Be wary of Consumer Reports' toothpaste recommendations.
Pay attention to pressure. Dentists recommend brushing with no more than 150-grams of force (mass). Look at your old toothbrush. If the bristles look mashed down, you are brushing way too hard. The bristles on your old toothbrush should look just as parallel as on your new toothbrush. Don't brush so hard.
I personally recommend Colgate Total. Its RDA is 70. Colgate Total has a combination of antimicrobial agent (Triclosan) and dental glue (Gantrez S-97). The glue makes the antimicrobial to stick to teeth for several hours, instead of immediately rinsing away. It seems to work. Compared to other toothpastes, I find Colgate Total keeps my teeth cleaner longer. Try it. The patent on Colgate Total lasts until 2008.
-updated Tom's of Maine with estimates provided from the mfr
-added newer Rembrandt Mint data provided by the mfr, though they gave confusing record of the kind of test they ran, so continue listing the old data too
-Ultra brite not discontinued. corrected.
-aim, close-up, pespsodent data provided by unilever
-arm and hammer data provided by chrch&dwight
-colgate ranges provided by colgate-palmolive
-colgate luminous provided by truedis/colgate-palmolive
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