The maker of Crest toothpaste, Procter and Gamble, has begun removing polyethylene beads from its products after a dental professional raised awareness regarding the negative effects the beads can have in people’s mouths.
A dental hygienist, Trish Walraven began to notice blue material in her patients’ mouths a few years ago, ABC affiliate KNXV reported. Eventually, she and other dentists and hygienists in her area realized the material was polyethylene beads, which are found in a variety of toothpastes.
The problem with the beads, she stated on her blog, is that they’re in the toothpaste purely for decoration and can become lodged between a persons’ teeth and gums. While she can’t prove it leads to gum problems, she stated there’s the potential for the beads to trap bacteria in the spaces, which can cause gingivitis and periodontal disease.
While the manufacturer believes the ingredient to be safe, public opinion has swayed it to slowly remove the beads from its products.
“We currently have products without microbeads for those who would prefer them,” Procter and Gamble wrote in a statement to KNXV. “We have begun removing microbeads from the rest of our toothpastes, and the majority of our product volume will be microbead-free within six months. We will complete our removal process by March of 2016.”
Right now, polyethylene beads are present in various Crest 3D, Crest Pro-Health, Crest Sensitivity Treatment, and Protection, Crest Be products and more.
What are they?
Polyethylene beads are tiny plastic specks included in countless products in the U.S. including soaps and shampoos, the Washington Post reported. Polyethylene is also the plastic material used to make grocery bags, bottles, and trash cans.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has deemed the products safe for food, but consumers and manufacturers have realized the beads don’t disintegrate or biodegrade. The longevity of the beads means the decoration can end up lingering in people’s mouths.
The ADA’s position
The American Dental Association released a statement Sept. 16 stating it did not feel it was necessary to remove the association’s seal from Crest products because of the polyethylene beads. As of right now, the beads are approved by the FDA, but the ADA stated it will monitor any new scientific information discovered about the products.