Psst…There’s a Trash Bag in Your Toothpaste

shrewsbury-petWhat is it about microbeads that have made them such a popular ingredient in health and beauty products these days? Driven by the desire to scrub away dirt, oils, and stains, it seems that we’ll do just about anything to finally be “clean,” including using exfoliators. What not everyone understands, however, is that these tiny beads are anything but gentle on your skin. Well, guess what, asks Dr. Todd Pizzi. Those microbeads that wreak havoc on skin? They’re also popping up in toothpaste.

Polyethylene: Trash Bags and Toothpaste

One problem with microbeads is that they ultimately end up in places where they shouldn’t. Once you’ve spit them out after brushing your teeth, they travel down the drain, into the sewer, down rivers and canals until they’ve reached the sea. You might think that a sewage treatment facility would be equipped to filter such small bits, but you’d be wrong.

Microbeads are made of polyethylene, which means they aren’t biodegradable, nor are they soluble in water. They’re plastic. Is it really such a good thing to brush your teeth with plastic, even with its diminutive size? When you visit our office for a routine teeth cleaning in Shrewsbury, MA, one of the first steps we take is inspecting your gum line and just beneath it. Dentists across the country have increasingly noticed these microbeads trapped within these areas. Essentially, you’re looking at plastic embedded beneath your gums. Sounds like a dental emergency, doesn’t it? By the way, PET plastic is also used to make trash bags, bottles, and other types of packaging.

It’s not just that microbeads are insinuating themselves into your gum tissue; think about how many you swallow with each brushing session. It’s bad enough that we have to worry about rumors that women consume x pounds of lipstick over their lifetime, but now we’re also swallowing plastic? The good news is that not all toothpaste contains these pint-sized plastic bits. We encourage you to read the ingredients before committing to a new toothpaste. Unless, of course, you find the idea of plastic particles refreshing.

More Fashionable Than Functional

Your dentists aren’t the only ones who are concerned about the use of microbeads in health and beauty products; California and New York have recently taken steps to ban the sale of products that contain the bothersome bits. Even manufacturers have been forced to reevaluate their use of plastics, albeit with no real sense of urgency. Witness a statement made by Procter & Gamble, which pledged to discontinue use of polyethylene…at least, as soon as they could find a suitable alternative. That’s all fine and good, until you consider the sole purpose of microbeads in toothpaste: decoration.

A perfect smile is plastic-free. To learn more about dental checkups in Shrewsbury, MA, or to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors, contact us at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in Shrewsbury, North and South Grafton, Hopkinton, Boylston, and the surrounding cities.