Home > News Updated 18 July 2014 How safe is your toothpaste? Toothpastes aren't all the same and some are very abrasive, causing possible harm to your teeth by stripping away the protective enamel layer. 0 iStock Toothpaste is an essential part of one’s daily oral hygiene and oral health care. But what makes one toothpaste brand different from another and how safe is it? Using toothpaste that is very abrasive may harm your teeth by stripping away the protective enamel layer, causing tooth sensitivity and notching of the tooth at the gum line, thus compromising the structural integrity of the tooth. It also removes or damages the glaze (lustre) of restorations, porcelain crowns and veneers. Toothpastes indicated for ‘stain removal’ or ‘teeth whitening’ contain greater amounts of silica and are generally also considered more abrasive.Read: Aloe vera good for teeth and gumsToothpaste’s abrasiveness is measured as the RDA value (Radioactive Dentin Abrasion or Relative Dentine Abrasiveness). The higher the RDA value, the more abrasive it is and the greater the risk of loss of tooth enamel and tooth sensitivity. Toothpaste with and RDA value of 80 or less are recommended as tooth enamel friendly. Other toothpaste ingredients that may be harmful are:· Antibacterial agents such as Triclosan, zinc salts and chlorhexidine gluconate. These medications are used in toothpaste to fight off harmful bacteria to reduce gum infection and bleeding gums. Long-term use of any antibacterial ingredient may, however, cause more problems than benefits by promoting antibiotic resistant bacteria. · Sensitivity reducing salts such as Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS). This is a detergent that also acts as a foaming agent. It may cause or contribute towards mouth ulcers, dry mouth and the irritation of the oral mucosa. It is better to find and use a SLS free toothpaste. Recommendations· Don’t be fooled by label claims, read the ingredients and decide for yourself which toothpaste is best for you. Ultimately it’s the action of the toothbrush that helps remove the plaque on your teeth and gums.· Choose toothpaste that is less abrasive (RDA <80) if the necks of your teeth are exposed or if you are experiencing tooth sensitivity. You may try: - Elmex Sensitive Plus- Colgate Regular- Colgate Total- Biotene- Sensodyne· If you are a high risk for tooth decay (i.e., acid reflux, high use of fizzy drinks, or elderly) you should routinely use a toothpaste containing fluoride.Read: New research on fluoride · Patients with active root caries lesions and with risk of lesion progression should use fluoride toothpaste containing 5000ppm fluoride (prescribed by their dentist only), frequent fluoride mouth rinsing, and topical application of fluoride varnish two to four times a year.· Gel toothpastes are generally less abrasive.Toothpastes are primarily designed for preventive purposes and maintaining good oral hygiene and not to treat specific conditions or diseases. Should you experience any discomfort when brushing your teeth, it is best to consult a dentist. Serious dental problems can be prevented by early detection of potential dangerous oral diseases.Read more:How much fluoride you need Bad breath remedyProf. Johan Hartshorne (B.Sc., B.Ch.D., M.Ch.D., M.P.A., Ph.D. (Stell), FFPH.RCP (UK)Intercare Tyger Valley Medical and Dental Centre & Visiting Professor, Department of Periodontics & Oral Medicine, University of Pretoria. More in News SEE: 8 places to go hiking in South Africa this summer More: News advertisement Read Health24’s Comments Policy Comment on this story 0 comments Comments have been closed for this article. Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Loading comments... Other news Lifestyle SEE: 8 places to go hiking in South Africa this summer Medical SEE: 10 medical discoveries that changed the world Medical Girls and boys have different autism profiles News Health24 Health Challenge: Week 16 Lifestyle Legal marijuana unlikely to tempt more kids Fitness Boosting muscle strength may improve memory From our sponsors Keep an eye on your vision Which skin products are better, ‘medical grade’ or ‘over-the-counter’? Win 1 of 6 R5000 cash prizes Win a R2 000 Skin Renewal voucher Live healthier Exercise benefits for seniors » Working out in the concrete jungle Even a little exercise may help prevent dementia Here’s an unexpected way to boost your memory: running Seniors who exercise recover more quickly from injury or illness When sedentary older adults got into an exercise routine, it curbed their risk of suffering a disabling injury or illness and helped them recover if anything did happen to them. No relief for MS » Drug shows promise against MS in mouse study Vitamin D may slow multiple sclerosis Obesity in girls tied to higher MS risk Exercise may not lower women's risk of MS A Harvard study showed no evidence to support the idea that exercise lowers the risk of multiple sclerosis.