Crest toothpaste’s controversial ingredient, polyethylene

Crest toothpaste
Crest toothpaste

(KNXV/CNN) — A Texas dental hygienist who noticed something strange in her patients’ mouths took action and now a major toothpaste manufacturer is making some changes.

Trish Walraven has seen lots of things as a dental hygienist, but until a few years ago she had seen nothing quite like this.

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

Little blue dots trapped between the tiny spaces between patients’ teeth and gum.

Walvaren started asking around, and found that other hygienists were seeing it.

It took awhile, but they say they finally figured out what it was, polyethylene.

It’s a plastic used in all kinds of things: garbage containers, grocery bags, bullet proof vests, even knee replacements.

And now, in some toothpastes.

Walvaren says one brand appears to using the plastic microbeads more than others, “Pretty much everyone was saying that they were using some form of Crest toothpaste.”

Valley dentist Justin Phillip says the microbeads shouldn’t be anywhere near your mouth.

“They’ll trap bacteria in the gums which leads to gingivitis. And over time, that infection moves from the gum into the bone that holds your teeth in and that becomes periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is scary,” Dr. Philip said.

Walvaren wants the beads gone, too.

She wrote a blog that has gotten national attention.

It even caught the eye of Procter and Gamble.

In a statement to ABC15, the Crest manufacturer wrote:

“While the ingredient in question is completely safe, approved for use in foods by the FDA, and part of an enjoyable brushing experience for millions of consumers with no issues, we understand there is a growing preference for us to remove this ingredient. So we will.

We currently have products without microbeads for those who would prefer them. We have begun removing microbeads from the rest of our toothpastes, and the majority of our product volume will be microbead-free within six months. We will complete our removal process by March of 2016.”

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