Back in August of 2013, I wrote an article about microbead pollution (1) and shared some of the various products you can find microbeads in such as nail art, soap, body wash, face scrubs and toothpaste. So I wasn’t too surprised to read an article by Trish Walraven, a Dental Hygienist in Texas regarding this very problem. Trish began noticing many of her patients had blue green specs below their gum line. After speaking with other hygienists and talking with patients a common denominator was revealed…..Crest toothpaste. (2)
If you use Crest toothpaste, you may be surprised to learn that those blue specks are actually pieces of plastic. That’s right polyethylene is clearly listed as a label ingredient. Polyethylene is the most commonly used plastic in the world. Used in everything from garbage containers, grocery bags, plastic bottles and containers to bulletproof vests and knee replacements. (3) Polyethylene isn’t biodegradable, it simply breaks down into smaller pieces.
So why is it used? According to Crest, it is used for cosmetic purposes to add color. (4)
What’s the Concern?
Florence, Kentucky dentist Dr. Brian Moore said the microbeads get trapped in your gums, causing more bacteria to enter. He has noticed several patients with blue-green flecks below their gum lines. His concern is that if the flecks remain they could cause gingival irritation. Moore added “Any time you have any foreign body in the pocket around the tooth, it’s a breeding ground for bacteria.” (5)
According to the Wisegeek site “Polyethylene is a type of polymer that is thermoplastic, meaning that it can be melted to a liquid and remolded as it returns to a solid state. It is chemically synthesized from ethylene, a compound that’s usually made from petroleum or natural gas”. Of all the plastics produced for industrial and commercial products, polyethylene is the most common. As an example, 280 million metric tons of it was produced in 2011 alone. (3)
Proctor and Gambles Stance on Microbeads
Proctor and Gamble, Unilever, and Colgate-Palmolive have all made recent commitments to start phasing microbeads out of their products. “We are discontinuing our limited use of micro plastic beads as scrub materials in personal care products as soon as alternatives are qualified,” said Mandy Wagner, a Procter & Gamble spokeswoman. (6) According to an article in Tech Times P & G states they have begun removing microbeads from their toothpastes and the majority of their products will be microbead free in six months and they will complete the removal process by March of 2016. (5)
According to Walraven, the following toothpastes include polyethylene as an ingredient. (2)
• Crest 3D White Radiant Mint
• Crest Pro-Health For Me
• Crest 3D White Arctic Fresh
• Crest 3D White Enamel Renewal
• Crest 3D White Luxe Glamorous White
• Crest Sensitivity Treatment and Protection
• Crest Complete Multi-Benefit Whitening Plus Deep Clean
• Crest 3D White Luxe Lustrous Shine
• Crest Extra White Plus Scope Outlast
• Crest SensiRelief Maximum Strength Whitening Plus Scope
• Crest Pro-Health Sensitive + Enamel Shield
• Crest Pro-Health Clinical Gum Protection
• Crest Pro-Health For Life for ages 50+
• Crest Complete Multi-Benefit Extra White+ Crystal Clean Anti-Bac
• Crest Be Adventurous Mint Chocolate Trek
• Crest Be Dynamic Lime Spearmint Zest
• Crest Be Inspired Vanilla Mint Spark
• Crest Pro-Health Healthy Fresh
• Crest Pro-Health Smooth Mint
What Can You Do?
1. Become a label reader. If you don’t know what an ingredient is, don’t buy it until you have a chance to do a little research.
2. If you’ve already purchased one of these toothpastes you can take it back to the retailer where you bought it, make sure that the manufacturer knows why you’re returning it, and ask for a refund.
3. Lodge a Crest consumer complaint at (800) 959-6586 and report an adverse health effect, namely, that you’re concerned that plastic pieces may be getting trapped in your gums.
4. Click here to send an email to Procter & Gamble, the makers of Crest.
5. Share this! Let your friends and family know that you are also concerned about the plastic in their toothpaste by clicking on your favorite social media link below and getting the word out.