As a Seaside, Oregon dentist, our top priority is to help protect and improve the health of our patients. That means not only providing exceptional care for our patients, but also to help educate patients on potential health risks they may not be aware exist.
Triclosan – a potentially harmful antibacterial agent currently used as an ingredient in some brands of toothpaste such as Colgate – has been shown to slowly build up on the bristles of toothbrushes, according to a new report.
What makes this realization troubling, according to researchers, is that your chemical exposure can continue even if you elect to switch to a different brand that’s triclosan-free.
The use of the chemical ingredient is now currently banned in over-the-counter gels, wipes, and soaps in the U.S. However, manufacturers can still use the antibacterial agent in toothpaste due to its ability to help reduce gum inflammation, cavities, and plaque buildup, said researchers from the University of Massachusetts that led this study.
Earlier studies have found that triclosan can disrupt hormones in humans and animals. It has also been shown to contribute to antibiotic resistance and is harmful to marine life, noted the researchers in their report. When totaled, the dangers presented by triclosan certainly seem to outweigh any potential benefits. But the majority of consumers are likely unware that such a potentially harmful compound could be legally used in the products they purchase.
A Hidden Danger
As part of their study, researchers from UMass simulated brushing with 22 toothbrushes and a variety of toothpastes.
Over 33 percent of the toothbrushes tested, including two types of children’s brushes, accumulated amounts of triclosan equal to seven to 12 times the amount typically introduced into the mouth while brushing.
Toothbrushes that feature “polishing cups” or “tongue/cheek cleaners” – usually made from a material known as elastomers – absorbed the highest amount of triclosan, stated researchers.
When the research team switched to brushing with brands of toothpaste that did not contain triclosan but continued using the same brushes, the chemical was continuously released during brushes for two weeks.
In addition to highlighting the dangers of prolonged triclosan exposure, the study findings also suggest that triclosan could find its way into the environment if toothbrushes tainted with the chemical are thrown away, stated researchers in a press release to the American Chemical Society.
Previously, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had banned triclosan from antiseptics products due to potentially harmful effects and because little proof existed that the chemical was actually more effective at eliminating germs than the simple combination of soap and water. The chemical is still currently allowed in a variety of health and beauty products, including hair dyes, deodorants, and hand lotion.
Helping to Protect Your Health
If you’re concerned about the dangers presented by triclosan, here are a few brands of toothpaste that don’t contain the chemical:
- Tom’s of Main Toothpaste
- Swanson’s Toothpaste
- Nature’s Gate
- All brands of Crest Toothpaste
- Jason’s Toothpaste
- Trader Joe’s Peppermint Toothpaste
If you’re considering switching to a brand of toothpaste that doesn’t contain this chemical compound, it’s also important that you switch brushes at the same time. If you need a new brush, we’ll be happy to provide you one during your next visit to see our Seaside, Oregon dentist.