Crest ProHealth Toothpaste Leaves Blue Beads in Your Gums-Outdated!
Summary of eRumor:
There’s buzz that Crest Pro Health Tooth Paste contains blue beads, or polyethylene, that can become lodge in your gums, allowing bacteria to enter.
Dentists raised concerns about the tiny blue beads found in some types of Crest ProHealth Tooth Paste back in 2014, but manufacturer Proctor & Gamble has already taken steps to get rid of them.
The controversy started back in March 2014 when dental hygienist Trish Walraven wrote a blog headlined “Crest toothpaste embeds plastic in our gums” for the blog site Dental Buzz. Walraven wrote that she had found tiny blue beads of polyethylene plastic lodged in the gum lines of her patients:
Around our teeth we have these little channels in our gums, sort of like the cuticles around our fingernails. The gum channel is called a sulcus, and it’s where diseases like gingivitis get their start. A healthy sulcus is no deeper than about 3 millimeters, so when you have hundreds of pieces of plastic being scrubbed into your gums each day that are even smaller than a millimeter, many of them are getting trapped.
The thing about a sulcus is that it’s vulnerable. Your dental hygienist spends most of their time cleaning every sulcus in your mouth, because if the band of tissue around your tooth isn’t healthy, then you’re not healthy. You can start to see why having bits of plastic in your sulcus may be a real problem, sort of like when popcorn hulls find their way into these same areas. Ouch, right?
Walraven didn’t claim that polyethylene left behind after you brush causes gum problems. There’s no scientific proof of that. Still, other dentists across the country followed suit in sounding alarms that polyethylene plastic beads could cause dental hygiene problems because the sulcus is so sensitive.
According to Proctor & Gamble ingredient listings, polyethylene was used in nine different types of Pro Health Toothpastes at the time:
Crest ProHealth for Me
Crest ProHealth for Life
Crest ProHealth Enamel Shield
Crest ProHealth Sensitive + Enamel Shield
Crest ProHealth Intensive Clean
Crest ProHealth Healthy Fresh
Crest ProHealth Whitening Toothpaste
Crest ProHealth Night Toothpaste
Crest ProHealth Toothpaste
One of the dental community’s biggest gripes about the little blue or green beads in Crest ProHealth Toothpastes was that they don’t provide any oral health benefits. Rather, Proctor & Gamble disclosed in a FAQ (that has since been removed) that polyethylene is “an inactive ingredient used to provide color.”
Back in 2014, the company pledged to remove the polyethylene microbeads from all Crest toothpastes by March 2016, Plastic News reports:
After months of prodding, Procter & Gamble Co., the makers of Crest brand toothpastes, say PE will be completely removed from its dental products by March 2016.
“While the ingredient in question is completely safe, approved for use in foods by the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] and part of an enjoyable brushing experience for millions of consumers with no issues, P&G understands there is a growing preference for them to remove this ingredient. So P&G will,” said a company spokesperson, via email. “The majority of Crest product volume will be microbead-free by March 2015. Crest will complete the removal process by March of 2016, well ahead of any state legislation targets.”
Also, a number of states have banned the use of polyethylene microbeads in all consumer products. Microbeads found in shampoos, body washes and hand soaps can’t be filtered from wastewater, so they end up in lakes and streams.
A report by the New York Attorney General found that water treatment plants across the state couldn’t process 19 tons of microbeads that wash into the state’s water supply each year, which led to them being banned in that state, and many other states.
So, concerns about microbeads in consumer products like Crest ProHealth Toothpaste are based in reality, but states and manufacturers have taken steps to end their use. That’s why we’re calling this rumor “outdated.”