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Ways to keep teeth nice have changed over the years

By CAROL KALLBERG Columnist Published: May 27, 2017 5:00 AM

Did you know there is an abrasiveness index of common toothpastes? Well, there is. I clipped it out of a magazine recently to take along to the store for my latest toothpaste purchase.

Buying toothpaste is always a big mystery to me. As with everything else in the world today, there are way too many choices. Most of the time, I can't remember what I bought last unless I really hated it, and even then sometimes I repeat my mistake.

Since the object these days for most people is to have blindingly white teeth, that is the big goal for most toothpastes. If you want to spend a lot of money and get the whitening done more quickly, a dentist will be happy to do the job for you.

If you happen to watch any old movies, say from the 1970s and earlier, the glamorous stars did not have sparkling white teeth. They were somewhat yellow just like the rest of us normal people. So who decided it was smart to have such white teeth?

Possibly the dental industry, do you think?

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Anyhow, to get back to the abrasiveness index, I learned that if toothpaste is too abrasive it tends to take the enamel off your teeth. That makes sense.

The least abrasive material to use on your teeth would be the plain old garden variety baking soda. We used that when I was a kid sometimes when we ran out of toothpaste. It has an RDA value of 7. (I have no idea what RDA stands for but that is what they called it.)

The worst is Colgate 2-and-1 Tartar Control/White that has a value of 200. The article said that anything over 70 is not good for your teeth. Most toothpastes fall into that higher range.

That is why right now I'm brushing with Arm & Hammer Peroxicare with a value of 49. It has peroxide in it that is supposed to be good for your gums. Since I plan on keeping all my own teeth for the rest of my life, that is important.

Growing up on a dairy farm probably contributed to my good teeth. We drank good Guernsey milk three times a day. Our well water tasted terrible, like sulfur or coal, and turned the bathroom fixtures brown like rust, so we didn't drink it unless desperate. This was long before the days of commercially bottled water, or taking water with you every time you left home.

For the first 18 years of my life, we rarely had soda pop in the house. I could probably count on one hand the number of times we bought root beer or orange pop. My Grandpa Massie told me that Coke could dissolve nails so it must be really bad for your stomach. I guess that is why we never bought it. And that was when a bottle of pop was eight ounces. Imagine what he would think of today's enormous bottles.

Aunt Ellen and Uncle Warren kept a case of Hires Root Beer on their back porch. Oh, how I envied them when I was growing up. But then when I got married and had a house of my own, we still didn't buy soft drinks to any extent. My kids still grew up drinking milk even though it came from Smith Dairy and not directly from the cow.

It's better to have less than sparkling white teeth than no teeth at all.


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