A dental hygienist in Phoenix started noticing something strange in her patients’ mouths, and when she talked to her colleagues, they admitted to seeing it too.
Trish Walraven told KPNX that she started noticing little blue specks in her patients’ gum lines a few years ago, she didn’t know what she was dealing with.
“We thought it was a cleaning product or something people were chewing,” she said.
Together with other hygienists they figured out it was polyethylene. It’s a plastic found in all kinds of things, and it’s also in some toothpastes.
Dentist Justin Phillip told KPNX that those microbeads can get trapped in your gum line and let in more bacteria, which can lead to gingivitis and periodontal disease.
One brand appeared to use the plastic microbeads more than others Walraven noticed, “Pretty much everyone was saying that they were using some form of Crest toothpaste.”
Walraven decided to take action by writing a blog. That blog has now gotten national attention, even Procter and Gamble noticed it.
The Crest manufacturer told KPNX:
“While the ingredient in question is completely safe, approved for use in foods by the FDA, and part of an enjoyable brushing experience for millions of consumers with no issues, we understand there is a growing preference for us to remove this ingredient. So we will.
We currently have products without microbeads for those who would prefer them. 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.”