In recent years, there have been lots of conversations about plastics in our every day lives. Residents in South Portland, Portland, and Falmouth have voted to manage and reduce the amount of plastic distributed by introducing fees, or even banning some plastics altogether. Polyethylene is the most common plastic in the world, but it is a problem for the environment because it isn’t biodegradable and lasts forever. At best, it breaks down into smaller particles, but still exists.
Over the past few years, skincare and toothpaste brands have been adding small beads to their products, claiming they enhance the cleaning ability of the product when in reality, they are only for decorative purposes. While seemingly harmless, these beads are actually plastic—the same plastic found in your grocery bags, trash cans, and bottles. Since these plastics don’t break down, even in water, where do they go?
Around your teeth you have channels in your gums called a sulcus, the same place where gingivitis begins. A healthy sulcus is only about 3mm deep, but is a perfect place for these microbeads of plastic to get trapped. Since they are smaller than a millimeter, hundreds of pieces can get stuck in your sulcus each time you brush.
While there is little evidence that these microbeads directly cause gum problems, the sulcus is very vulnerable. Your dental hygienist spends most of their time cleaning this small space around every tooth in your mouth. And if your sulcus isn’t healthy, then your tooth, and potentially your whole mouth, isn’t healthy. So, we think it is better to be safe than sorry!
You can check the ingredients lists to see if microbeads are lurking in your toothpaste. Check for polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, or polymethyl methacrylate. Researchers have found the following products contain either microbeads or other microplastics. We encourage you to check your bathrooms to make sure these products aren’t hiding in there!
Toothpastes that Contain Microbeads:
- Crest Pro-Health
- Crest Pro-Health for Me
- Crest Sensitivity
- Crest Complete Multi Benefit
- Crest Clinical Sensitivity Relief
- Crest 3D White Luxe
- Crest 3D White
- CVS Brilliant White
Toothpastes that May Contain Other Microplastics:
- Colgate Max Clean-Smart Foam
- Colgate Max Clean
- Elmex Anti-Cavity with Fluoride
- Glo Science, Inc. Glo Whitening Antioxidant
- Jason Naturals Sea Fresh Antiplaque and Strengthening
- Jason Naturals Powersmile Anti-Cavity and Whitening
- Tom’s of Maine Clean & Gentle Fluoride
While caution is due, do be aware that since the initial news broke on microbeads, manufacturers have been phasing microbeads out of their formulations. But if you’d like to learn more about how to counteract the presence of microbeads in your mouth – and the environment – check out StoryofStuff.org and BeattheMicrobead.org.
Do you think you’ve got microbeads in your mouth? Schedule your next teeth cleaning today by calling us at 207.781.5900.