What Is Non-Abrasive Toothpaste?

What Is Non-Abrasive Toothpaste?

Updated August 2022

Have you ever wondered how toothpaste actually helps your teeth stay strong and healthy? I know I have. Luckily, it’s not rocket science, so please let me try to explain. It basically works in two ways:

  1. An abrasive element mechanically scrapes away plaque and tartar.
  2. Fluoride rebuilds and strengthens the outer layer of the tooth.

Let’s look at how abrasion plays a key role in cleaning your teeth and help you find a highly rated non-abrasive toothpaste. With that being said, let’s start.

How Abrasion Both Cleans And Damages Your Teeth At The Same Time

Toothpaste cleans your teeth by the use of an abrasive element. The most commonly used elements are calcium carbonate, silica, aluminum hydroxide, and phosphates of aluminum or calcium. They will scrub and scrape away plaque and tartar – and thereby give you cleaner and whiter looking teeth.

Now that’s all good, but unfortunately, the scrubbing and scraping also remove some of the outer layers of your teeth. This protective outer layer, called the enamel, is therefore at risk of being permanently damaged. To avoid this from happening, many people prefer to use a non-abrasive toothpaste. But before we move on to discuss that, let’s first look at this…

The 5 Things That Affect Enamel Health

It’s important to know that the choice of toothpaste isn’t the only thing that affects the wear on your teeth. There are actually several other things that affect your dental health. Here are the five most important:

  1. What you eat and drink
  2. Brushing technique
  3. Type of toothbrush
  4. How often you brush your teeth
  5. Choice of toothpaste

The first four points are all pretty logical and straightforward, so we will not go into any specific details about them. But what we will say is this. The harder the toothbrush and your brushing technique is, and the more often you brush, the more your teeth will be eroded.

As for foods and their impact on dental health, read this.

In this article, we will focus on the last point (#5), Choice of toothpaste.

Why Non-Abrasive Toothpastes Don’t Exist

It’s important to tell you right away that the term “non-abrasive” is actually not at an accurate term to use when it comes to toothpastes, because there are no toothpastes that are truly non-abrasive. In fact, all types of toothpaste are abrasive to some degree, and even brushing your teeth without any would still cause some abrasion. Now, all kinds of toothpaste are not created equal; Some are better than others. So if you are concerned about this, what you really should be looking for is a low-abrasive toothpaste.

Radioactive Dentin Abrasion Index

Thanks to the Radioactive Dentin Abrasion (RDA) measuring method (don’t worry, although radioactivity is used, it’s completely safe!) each toothpaste gets an RDA value, which allows us to compare them against each other. The American Dental Association (ADA) has set the following RDA value recommendations:

To give you an idea of the big spread between the different brands and products, take a look at this list of toothpastes and their RDA values below. As you can see, the least abrasive toothpaste is the Elmex sensitive toothpaste with an abrasivity of only 30, while other brands are as high as 200. For comparison, using only a toothbrush and plain water has an RDA value of 4.

If your toothpaste isn’t on the list, and if it’s not specified on the box or tube, here’s an easy way to determine if it’s high-, medium- or low-abrasive:

Toothpaste Abrasiveness

The toothpaste you are using may be wearing away the enamel and dentin on your teeth, especially at the gumline! The use of “grit” in toothpaste is not unlike the use of grit on sandpaper. The more grit there is, the more effective it is at removing stain and plaque. Unfortunately, a significant downside is the destruction of tooth structure.

There is an abrasive index for toothpastes called the RDA Index. The higher the value, the more abrasive it is. At or below 45 may be an acceptable balance between benefit and risk if you must use toothpaste. Over 45 is a matter of how quickly the loss of tooth structure can occur based on the RDA, frequency of use, type of toothbrush, and brushing technique. If you don’t know the RDA of your toothpaste, you can find out by using the consumer contact information on the package or container. The following list gives the RDA index of just some of the many kinds of toothpaste that exist today.

Abrasivity of common toothpastes

RDABrand & Variety
4ADA reference toothbrush and plain water
7plain baking soda
8Arm & Hammer Tooth Powder
30Elmex Sensitive Plus
35Arm & Hammer Dental Care
42Arm & Hammer Advance White Baking Soda Peroxide
44Squigle Enamel Saver
48Arm & Hammer Dental Care Sensitive
49Arm & Hammer Peroxicare Tartar Control
49Tom’s of Maine Sensitive (given as 40’s)
52Arm & Hammer Peroxicare Regular
53Rembrandt Original (“RDA”)
54Arm & Hammer Dental Care PM Bold Mint
57Tom’s of Maine Children’s, Wintermint (given as mid-50’s)
63Rembrandt Mint (“Hefferren RDA”)
68Colgate Regular
70Colgate Total
70Arm & Hammer Advance White Sensitive
70Colgate 2-in-1 Fresh Mint (given as 50-70)
83Colgate Sensitive Maximum Strength
91Aquafresh Sensitive
93Tom’s of Maine Regular (given as high 80’s low 90’s)
94Rembrandt Plus
94Plus White
95Crest Regular (possibly 99)
101Natural White
103Arm & Hammer Sensation
104Sensodyne Extra Whitening
106Colgate Platinum
106Arm & Hammer Advance White Paste
107Crest Sensitivity Protection
110Colgate Herbal
110Amway Glister (given as upper bound)
113Aquafresh Whitening
117Arm & Hammer Advance White Gel
117Arm & Hammer Sensation Tartar Control
120Close-Up with Baking Soda (canadian)
124Colgate Whitening
130Crest Extra Whitening
133Ultra brite
144Crest MultiCare Whitening
145Ultra brite Advanced Whitening Formula
150Pepsodent (given as upper bound)
165Colgate Tartar Control (given as 155-165)
168Arm & Hammer Dental Care PM Fresh Mint
175Colgate Luminous (given as 150-200)
200Colgate 2-in-1 Tartar Control/Whitening or Icy Blast/Whitening (given as 190-200)
200FDA recommended limit
250ADA 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.

Pay attention to the pressure. 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 and your teeth will thank you for it.

Popular Non-Abrasive Toothpaste Brands

To help you find the best and most sensitive toothpaste for you, we have selected three very popular products that are all highly rated by Amazon customers. To find customer reviews and more information about them, click the images or product names!

I think you could choose any one of the above products and be happy with the results. But don’t take my word for it, check out what the customers are saying! Good luck!

Best Selling Toothpastes

  • Crest Complete Whitening Plus Scope Toothpaste – Minty Fresh, Net Wt. 6.2 oz(175 g) (Pack of 3)
  • Crest 3D White Radiant Mint Whitening Toothpaste, 3.5 oz Twinpack
  • Colgate Total Whitening Toothpaste Twin Pack, 6 Ounce

Final Word

You’ve most likely heard the term “non abrasive toothpaste,” but what exactly does it mean? Scrubbing power is an indication of abrasiveness. While some abrasiveness is required to remove plaque and stains (or we wouldn’t be able to clean our teeth), most toothpastes on the market contain additives that are far too abrasive and can virtually eliminate enamel, the hard outer layer of a tooth. Enamel does not regrow; once it’s gone, it’s gone for good. That is why using a low abrasive toothpaste is one of the greatest things you can do for your teeth.