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Green Living: What’s in your toothpaste?

Good genes may be the reason your late Aunt Emma sported a mouthful of strong, healthy teeth when she died at a ripe old age.

Her great teeth might also be due, in part, to the dental products she used.

Old-fashioned baking soda, it turns out, is one of the least abrasive of all teeth cleaners.

As Dental Designs of Salt Lake City reports on its website:  “Toothpaste can be good and bad.  Unfortunately, the better it is at removing stain, the better it is at removing enamel, also.”

The Federal Drug Administration and the American Dental Association have come up with a system to measure the abrasive level of toothpastes, called the RDA value.  The table is reproduced on several websites, including these:

Compared with commercial toothpastes, baking soda is the gentlest on your teeth, it shows.

Below, a partial look at the rankings; the higher the number, the more abrasive the product:

7 plain baking soda
8 Arm & Hammer Tooth Powder
35 Arm & Hammer Dental Care
42 Arm & Hammer Advance White Baking Soda Peroxide
68 Colgate Regular
70 Colgate Total
79 Sensodyne
95 Crest Regular

113 Aquafresh Whitening
117 Arm & Hammer Advance White Gel
124 Colgate Whitening
130 Crest Extra Whitening
145 Ultra brite Advanced Whitening Formula

150 Pepsodent 165 Colgate Tartar Control
168 Arm & Hammer Dental Care PM Fresh Mint
200 Colgate 2-in-1 Tartar Control/Whitening or Icy Blast/Whitening

At the Green Divas website,, blogger Lisa says she’s given up toothpaste entirely.

Mydentist recommends NOT using toothpaste at all. Water is best or dipping your toothbrush in mouthwash. If you have to use toothpaste, pick one that is valued at 45 or less and only use a tiny bit.

“I hate to say it but I grew up on Colgate and Crest. Fortunately I have been using lower numbers for some of my adult years, but I am now taking Dr. Scaff’s advice and NOT using toothpaste.”

If more of us adopted Dr, Scaff’s advice, the environment would also benefit:  there’d be far fewer used toothpaste tubes and packaging to clog landfills, and we’d cut down on energy needed for manufacturing and transportation.

And wouldn’t Aunt Emma be proud?