Toothpaste and Headlights: Their Abrasive Relationship

clean headlights photo
Photo by stevendamron
If you’ve had your vehicle for any length of time, you may have noticed that your headlights just aren’t as bright as they were in times past. More than likely, the problem lies within their plastic covers that have succumbed to years of sun damage and scratches from passing particles. As an alternative to expensive cleaning solutions, many car owners are finding that toothpaste polishes up their headlights quite well. Thanks to the amount of abrasives it contains, toothpaste works wonders on headlights by simply applying it with a rag.

The Abrasiveness of Toothpaste

Abrasiveness refers to how harshly a toothpaste’s composition reacts with tooth enamel. To effectively clean teeth, toothpaste is composed of cleansers that help remove food particles, plaque and more. For measuring purposes, each toothpaste is assigned a number that reflects its Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA). A higher number indicates a highly abrasive toothpaste, which possesses intense scrubbing and cleansing abilities. Just as the grit in sandpaper buffs scratches and polishes surfaces, the abrasives in toothpaste work in a similar way to remove stains and brighten teeth, so using toothpaste to clean headlights is an effective method.

What That Means for Your Teeth

If some toothpaste varieties mimic the effects of sandpaper, then it is natural to question the impact that may have on your teeth. Most definitely, toothpaste is an excellent way to maintain a beautiful smile, but a high concentration of abrasives can actually erode the protective layer of enamel that surrounds your teeth. When this protection is stripped away, it never regenerates, and deteriorating enamel often results in tooth sensitivity. Over time, highly abrasive toothpastes can also create notches on teeth that require fillings to reinforce their structural integrity.

Dentist Recommendations

When it comes to protecting and cleaning your teeth, Austin dentist Dan Matthews recommends that individuals use a minimally abrasive toothpaste for everyday brushing. Referencing the RDA scale, the following brands boast low abrasive values: Oxyfresh, Colgate Regular and Sensodyne. As for your vehicle’s faded headlights, the most effective toothpaste would be one with a high RDA value for maximum scrubbing power. Generally speaking, whitening toothpastes and those marketed for tartar control are highly abrasive. According to the RDA scale, Colgate Tartar Control and Crest Pro Health Whitening top the list of toothpaste varieties with the highest RDA values.

As discussed, toothpaste plays an essential role in proper dental care, and it can even help you in your quest for fog-free, like-new headlights. However, when using toothpaste to achieve both healthier teeth and brighter lights, it is crucial to choose the right product for the job based on its abrasiveness.

Dan Matthews DDS
Dan Matthews Dan Matthews DDS The Park at Eanes Creek,
4407 Bee Cave Road
Building 2, Suite 221
Austin, Texas, 78746
(512) 452-2273
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