Have you ever noticed toothpaste leaving a tiny blue bead that stuck to your tooth after brushing your teeth? Perhaps not, but over the past few years, dentists have seen where toothpaste left microbeads when examining patients’ mouths, and dental hygienists have come across them when cleaning teeth.

What Are Microbeads?

Microbeads are tiny beads made from a plastic substance (polyethylene) that manufacturers use as exfoliants in face washes and other beauty products. They also use them in toothpaste to give it color. So, it’s main use in toothpaste is for cosmetic purposes. However, the beads are not biodegradable.

According to an article in The Washington Post , an Arizona dentist stated that the beads can trap bacteria in the gums. Bacteria can lead to gingivitis and eventually periodontal disease.

Congress Bans Microbeads

Congress passed a law in 2015 banning microbeads in commercial products because of the potentially negative effect they have on the environment. The beads find their way into the soil, rivers and streams and can possibly be toxic to fish and marine life. Because the beads never biodegrade, they are here to stay. Companies must begin phasing out the beads by July 1, 2017 and the beads are to be totally gone from manufacturing by 2018.

The American Dental Association’s Position on Microbeads Used in Toothpaste

The American Dental Association (ADA) has taken the position that the ingredient is safe. The FDA approved the use of microbeads in foods and cites a lack of scientific evidence that microbeads are unsafe. If microbeads were proven to pose a health risk, the ADA would withdraw its Seal from the product. It decided that relevant studies do not warrant removing the ADA Seal from toothpastes containing polyethylene microbeads.

Crest toothpaste removed all microbes from its toothpastes by March 2016 based on public objection to the beads’ use.

Dr. Baker can help you have healthy teeth and gums and takes care of all your dental health needs.