Last updated on February 7th, 2016 at 09:48 am
Mark Burhenne DDS gives us the low-down on whether you should be concerned about Triclosan in your toothpaste.
Colgate Total is a best-selling toothpaste with the active ingredient Triclosan, a pesticide that is added to reduce the risk of gingivitis and kill oral bacteria.
While it’s been shown to reduce cavities, the problem with triclosan is that it’s still a major health risk to take, and with very little upside.
The Triclosan debate has been around for years. It was first brought up in 1974 when the FDA declared that they would look more deeply into the long-term effects of Triclosan use in humans. This was never done and the FDA has yet to finalize their findings. It has recently come to light that the 1997 research used by the FDA in approving Triclosan use in Colgate toothpaste was not independently conducted but was funded by Colgate.
The FDA is now reviewing its initial 1997 ruling, and has now stated that it will make a final ruling on Triclosan in 2016. Manufacturers are removing triclosan from soaps and other personal care products. Canada, Japan, the European Union and Minnesota have banned or are in the process banning Triclosan from personal care products.
So What’s Wrong With Triclosan?
The problem with triclosan is that it indiscriminately kills bacteria in the mouth; this means that it gets rid of both good and bad oral bacteria. However, for proper oral health, the good bacteria are very important. When triclosan kills off these good bacteria, you get bad breath, dry mouth, and a decrease in your body’s ability to build resistance to infections and disease.
Quick Facts You Should Know About Triclosan
- Triclosan remains in the body long after you’ve finished brushing. 75% of people in the U.S tested had triclosan present in their urine. Traces of triclosan have also been found in blood and breast milk.
- Triclosan has been shown to disrupt hormone functioning in many animal studies where the animals are exposed to levels of triclosan similar to those levels we’re exposed to with consumer products, like toothpaste.
Triclosan and Hormone Disruption
While there is presently no research on the long-term effects of triclosan on humans, in animals there are numerous studies that demonstrate that triclosan is a powerful disruptor of the endocrine system.
These studies reveal that animals, when exposed to levels of triclosan similar to the levels of exposure humans receive through consumer products experience
- Damage to the fetus
- Changes in the shape of sperm
- Weakening of heart muscle
Triclosan in toothpaste is a health risk I’m not willing to take and I recommend you don’t take the risk either. There is currently no research indicating what the long-term effects of triclosan use in humans is, but there are no overwhelming health benefits either.
You don’t need triclosan in your toothpaste and using it puts you at risk. My advice is to play it safe and avoid triclosan in toothpaste and other consumer products altogether.
This comprehensive list compiled by the US Department of Health and Human Services indicates personal care products with Triclosan that will be advisable to keep out of your home.
If you are concerned about cavities and gingivitis, proper brushing and flossing technique will keep you in good, long-term oral health.
Here is what you need to do (if you are not doing it already):
- Toss your Colgate Total. While you’re at it, check to see that your toothpaste is SLS-free and fluoride-free.
- Take it a step further and switch to a natural toothpaste like Tom’s of Maine, which, interestingly is manufactured by a subsidiary of Colgate-Palmolive
- Brush and floss after meals or at least twice a day using the right techniques. Yes, this is the ‘magic bullet’ to long-lasting good oral health.
- Keep your dentist’s appointment for a professional clean at least twice a year. This is to ensure you get rid of tartar and plaque that you cannot reach with regular brushing and flossing.
- Eat alkalinizing foods that will neutralize acidity in the mouth. Acidity promotes the growth of harmful bacteria and eating alkalizing fruits and vegetables will help balance out the acidity in the mouth.
- Drinking plenty of water helps clean the mouth as water dislodges food particles that may be stuck between teeth and minimize plaque buildup between brushings.
- Take Probiotics to help your mouth build up on good bacteria because your oral health depends greatly on the balance of good and bad bacteria in the mouth.
- Talk about it! Colgate Total is a popular toothpaste and one of your friends or family might be using it right now. Make sure to spread the word on the harms of Triclosan in toothpaste by sharing and emailing this article.
Mark Burhenne DDS is the founder of AskTheDentist.com – download his wonderful Buyer’s Guide Safe Toothpaste right here! This is a really great guide with a list of ingredients found in toothpastes and what is best to avoid. Thank you Dr. Burhenne!
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