Polyethylene found in Crest toothpaste prompts changes

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Consumers can expect changes to the Crest toothpastes on store shelves nationwide.

24-Hour News 8 took a look at what that means for the tube already in medicine cabinets across the county.

Trish Walraven a Dental Hygienist wanted people to take a good look at the blue specks in their toothpaste.

Walraven said she had no clue what they were when she spotted the particles a few years ago in the gum lines of her patients.

“We thought it was maybe a cleaning product or something that people were chewing,” said Walraven.

It turns out those blue specks are Polyethylene. It’s a plastic used in products like grocery bags, bulletproof vests and even knee replacements.

Walveran found Crest appeared to use the plastic in its products too.

24-Hour News 8 also spoke with Doctor Domenick Zero who is the Director of Oral Health Research at the IU School of Dentistry.

“In theory, if these particles are trapped in the gingival sulcus, sort of the space between the tooth and the gum tissue, it could act as an irritant. I don’t know of any studies that support that,” said Zero.

Walveran said Polyethylene is used in toothpaste for decorative purposes only.

“From an oral health point of view, there’s really no benefit. They are pretty much inert particles and they are there to bring color and pizazz to the toothpaste,” said Zero.

Procter and Gamble, the makers of Crest released a statement in an e-mail saying in part “P&G understands there is a growing preference for them to remove this ingredient, so P&G will.”

Dr. Zero says there’s no immediate reason for people to be concerned about the product.

“These micro-particles, microbeads are approved by the FDA, so it’s legal, it’s possible for the manufacturers to include them.”

Proctor and Gamble also said the majority of Crest products will be microbead-free by March of 2015.

Consumers can check the ingredient list on your toothpaste for microbeads. Just look for the key word: polyethylene.

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