Concerns expressed over ingredient added to some toothpastes

A 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 when she started noticing little blue specks in her patients’ gum lines a few years ago, she didn’t know what she was dealing with.

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

Walvaren started asking around. She found other hygienists were seeing it too.

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.

It’s also in some toothpastes..

Walvaren says one brand appears to use 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 when the microbeads get trapped in your gum line, they can let in more bacteria.

According to Phillip, that can lead to even bigger problems including gingivitis and periodontal disease.

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.”

To read Walvaren’s blog which includes a list of some toothpastes that include polyethylene as an ingredient: click here .

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