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Testing our toothpaste

To help with understanding what our oral products can do, we’ve had all of them tested by an independent laboratory to assess their abrasiveness and whitening abilities. 

Trigger warning - lots of people hate hearing or talking about teeth and what can be done to them. If you’re one of them, beware that the info shared in this article can strike a chord.

Following our commitments and ethics, Lush works with a lab that utilises in-vitro tests with no animal involvement, instead using specimens of human dentine and enamel. All human teeth are donated anonymously and voluntarily at local dental practices following extraction. The method of collection has been agreed upon with the Human Tissue Authority (HTA) and the lab holds a current HTA license for working with human teeth and saliva.

How does Lush test dentin and enamel abrasivity?

To say that a toothpaste is abrasive means that it polishes and cleans the surface of the teeth very well. Having thoroughly cleansed teeth is great, but it shouldn’t be a too harsh process either; this is why we have had our products tested for their abrasiveness.

The tests give two specific measurements: a Relative Dentine Abrasivity value (RDA) and a Relative Enamel Abrasivity value (REA). RDA is often used as the industry standard, as dentine is more easily affected by abrasives. These test results can help you personalise your oral care routine; the baseline being that the higher the scores, the more abrasive the toothpaste is - which is good if you want a squeaky clean, polished finish. For a gentler yet cleansing experience, go for the toothpaste with the lower scores.

Abrasivity test results

Low abrasivity: Soother toothpaste jelly (58 RDA + 3.62 REA)

Low/medium abrasivity: Cool With Fluoride toothpaste (66.8 RDA + 7.36 REA), Cool toothpaste jelly (73 RDA + 6.02 REA)

Medium abrasivity: Plaque Sabbath toothpaste jelly (44 RDA + 11.49 REA), Refresher toothpaste tabs (71 RDA + 8.54 REA), Sparkle toothpaste tabs (74 RDA + 7.91 REA), Dirty toothpaste tabs (92 RDA + 9.87 REA)

High abrasivity: Boom! toothpaste tabs (142 RDA + 10.12 REA)

These results show that toothpaste tabs provide a higher level of abrasion than our jelly bases; and if you’re looking for focused polish, Boom! tops the list here.

Plaque Sabbath toothpaste jelly is the best for those who want a more gentle base but effective abrasive qualities. This is largely due to the powdered charcoal in the product, which gives a good polishing effect on the tooth enamel (as shown in the REA results).

Toothpaste jellies and our fluoride toothpaste offer less abrasion while still cleaning the teeth - perfect for those who feel they have a greater level of sensitivity or want to treat their teeth and gums as gently as possible.

How does Lush test stain removal and whitening of the teeth?

We also asked the lab to measure the ability of our toothpastes to clean the pellicle from teeth, so we can assess their stain-removing capability. For this Pellicle Cleaning Ratio (PCR) test, a dark and robust stain was established on the surface of the human enamel samples. This was done with a solution containing vegitone casein, soya broth, tea, coffee, and red wine. The samples were then brushed in a V8 brushing machine.

An additional whitening test was used to assess the “real-life application” of the abrasivity and pellicle removal. Using the industry standard VITA® Bleachedguide shades, the lab could measure how much visually whiter teeth would be after the equivalent of one week’s worth of brushing. The same staining solution as the PCR test was used to assess this.

Whitening and pellicle cleaning tests results

Over 0.8 shades lighter: Cool With Fluoride toothpaste (51.84 PCR), Soother toothpaste jelly (36.56 PCR)

Over 1.5 shades lighter: Sparkle toothpaste tabs (102.97 PCR)

Over 2 shades lighter: Boom! toothpaste tabs (109.8 PCR), Dirty toothpaste tabs (109.7 PCR)

Over 3 shades lighter: Refresher toothpaste tabs (107.5 PCR), Plaque Sabbath toothpaste jelly (50 PCR), Cool toothpaste jelly (54.5 PCR)

According to these results, all our toothpastes have a positive effect on teeth whitening. Toothpaste tabs give the strongest effect on the pellicle, one key cause of staining. They produced whitening results of at least 1.5 shades higher after the equivalent of one week’s brushing. This is in part due to their generally higher levels of abrasivity, mechanically removing the pellicle. After using toothpaste tabs, you can expect the cleanest mouthfeel and more targeted stain removal.

If your teeth aren’t stained, then you’re less likely to need to use toothpaste tabs regularly, and the best would be to opt for a toothpaste jelly. Feel free to introduce toothpaste tabs occasionally to top up your gleaming smile or after a heavy(!) session of coffee, tea, or wine!

Despite their gentler base, Plaque Sabbath and Cool toothpaste jellies both performed incredibly well on the whitening scale, rivalling Refresher toothpaste tabs. Why not give them a go a see how they work for you?

Learn more about Lush's oral care philosophy and the difference between our tablet, jelly and fluoride bases in this comprehensive article. You can also explore the whole range and its fascinating colours and textures there.

“Lush aims to provide a product for every need. We hope you can see from this information that you can choose a product that fits your toothy needs at any given time in your life.” Helen Ambrosen, co-founder of Lush and product inventor

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