There’s Polyethyl-WHAT in my Toothpaste?

A couple weeks ago a patient asked me, “so what’s the deal with Crest?”  

I immediately knew what he was referring to. You may have heard of the controversy being discussed recently among the dental community. A number of months ago, dental hygienists started bringing to light a material found in many Crest toothpastes.

The tiny blue specks that you might be brushing with are actually particles of a common plastic known as polyethylene. In fact, as one of the most widely-used plastics in the world, polyethylene is used to make grocery bags and plastic bottles. This might sound a little disconcerting, but the FDA has approved polyethylene as an ingredient in toothpaste and body scrubs.

 The controversy over this ingredient has stemmed from dental hygienists, who remove these blue beads from their patients’ gums on a daily basis. Polyethylene is not biodegradable, and therefore does not dissolve. As a result, the particles become embedded in the gums. There is no scientific evidence that this material is harmful or will lead to gum damage, however, it has the dental community beckoning for change. In response to this public concern, Procter and Gamble, the makers of Crest, have vowed to remove polyethylene from all of their toothpaste by March of 2015.

We as consumers have a right to know what is going into our bodies­­­–harmful or not. Knowledge is the best medicine! Happy brushing!

By Shauna DeLong, R.D.H.

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