Oral Health

Oral Health

10 August, 2017
Soap ingredient banned in September 2017 still in toothpaste

On September 2, 2016, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled that triclosan must be removed from all hand and body soaps as of September 2017.

What's so wrong with this little added ingredient?

Triclosan is an antibacterial ingredient added to many products, including clothes, toys, furniture and cookware, to avoid contamination. Health experts fear that continued use of this synthetic antimicrobial compound will create strains of resistant bacteria. It can be absorbed into the skin and has been shown to disrupt hormones, which can lead to infertility.

Triclosan has also been shown to reduce normal muscle function. Another study found that triclosan was found in the urine of 75 per cent of those sampled, proving that the chemical is dangerously pervasive in everyday products.

Why is this banned antimicrobial still being used in toothpaste?

Triclosan-fluoride toothpaste reduces gum inflammation and bleeding, and combats plaque, which means fewer cavities. Colgate-Palmolive—the manufacture of the best-selling Colgate Total® toothpaste—argues that the benefits of triclosan outweigh the negative health effects. Colgate Total® is now the only toothpaste in the US with this ingredient. In a small independent study, however, use of toothpaste with triclosan was found to disrupt microbes in the gut. This can lead to antibiotic resistance and a weakened immune system.

Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble no longer use triclosan in any of their products. An FDA panel concluded that plain soap and water were just as effective at scrubbing away germs. These major companies looked at the initial FDA 2013 proposed rule, listened to consumers, and took action ahead of the ban.

But there are other ingredients that should be avoided as well, if possible:

• Sodium lauryl sulfate—a chemically processed soap known for its foaming properties
• Brilliant Blue FCF— “Blue 1” is a synthetic food colouring dye made from petroleum that has been the topic of FDA public health advisories
• Microbeads—tiny plastic beads made of polyethelene that “scrub” your teeth clean, but end up in oceans and the food chain (in the form of 8 trillion per day, in the US alone).

Healthy alternatives

The good news is that there are other ways to clean your teeth and freshen breath without the added danger of this banned ingredient.

Stannous fluoride is an antimicrobial that helps rebuild tooth enamel. It can also help with tooth sensitivity. Xylitol is a sweetener that encourages salivation, which prevents plaque buildup on teeth. Baking soda is mildly abrasive and can be used instead of microbeads. As for the blue stripes that make toothpaste look “pretty”? Not necessary, now that we know we’re ingesting manufactured colours with fancy names.

Colgate Total® may be the last triclosan-laced toothpaste in the United States, but there are plenty of other products that still contain the antimicrobial. A smart consumer is an informed consumer—read labels, do your research and speak your mind when it comes to what you put on and in your body.

Check out this selection of natural toothpastes that will put your mind at ease when it comes to oral health.

And keep a look out for these products containing triclosan here.

By: Adriane Rysz


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