Is Your Toothpaste Harming Your Teeth?

Some toothpastes are designed to be abrasive. This might not sound like it should be compatible with your teeth, but when a toothpaste is marketed as charcoal-activated, containing micro-beads or featuring whitening micro-crystals, then it's definitely going to be abrasive for your teeth. But despite the fact that this abrasion serves a purpose, is it really such a good idea for your dental health?

A Specific Purpose

You've probably chosen an abrasive toothpaste for a specific purpose. Just think of exfoliating face wash. The wash itself contains fine granules, intended to lightly buff your face in order to remove dead skin cells. Abrasive kinds of toothpaste have a similar principle. The fine granules (whether synthetic or organic in nature) are intended to lightly buff the surfaces of your teeth. Unfortunately, this buffing may not be light enough.

Exfoliating Granules

The buffing action is intended to give you an extra advantage when it comes to removing plaque and food debris from your teeth—theoretically leading to a deeper clean. When the intended purpose of the abrasive toothpaste is to whiten your teeth, the exfoliating granules should help to remove surface stains from your dental enamel. These are great ideas in theory, but the reality can be a little different. 

Enamel Corrosion

The danger is that ongoing use of a toothpaste containing abrasive properties can begin to corrode your dental enamel. More or less, this enamel is already under constant threat of corrosion—which occurs when the oral bacteria in your mouth feeds on sucrose, starch and other components of your diet, and then produces acid. This acid can corrode your dental enamel, leading to cavities. Toothpaste is supposed to fortify your teeth against corrosion, and not help the process along.  

Advice From Your Dentist

Using abrasive toothpastes is perhaps only wise when your dental enamel is already thick and healthy, and hasn't already experienced much corrosion. It's something to ask your dentist about. It is also helpful to know that much of the necessary teeth exfoliation work can be carried out during a regular checkup. When your dentist scales and polishes your teeth, they are scraping away plaque, tartar and even surface stains—but are doing so in a way that doesn't harm the underlying dental enamel. This can be a healthier option for your teeth than regularly using abrasive toothpaste.

Be sure to ask a dentist if using an abrasive toothpaste is a smart idea in your particular case. You may be advised to alternate between using an abrasive toothpaste and one that's more gentle on your enamel.