What’s in your commercial toothpaste? For starters ther may be plastic micro beads!Did you know that at least 12 Crest toothpastes have been identified as containing microbeads of polyethylene (PE).
Crest 3D White Radiant Mint • Crest Pro-Health For Me • Crest 3D White Arctic Fresh • Crest 3D White Enamel Renewal • Crest 3D White Luxe Glamorous White • Crest Sensitivity Treatment and Protection • Crest Complete Multi-Benefit Whitening Plus Deep Clean • Crest 3D White Luxe Lustrous Shine • Crest Extra White Plus Scope Outlast • Crest SensiRelief Maximum Strength Whitening Plus Scope • Crest Pro-Health Sensitive + Enamel Shield • Crest Pro-Health Clinical Gum Protection • Crest Pro-Health For Life for ages 50+ • Crest Complete Multi-Benefit Extra White+ Crystal Clean Anti-Bac • Crest Be Adventurous Mint Chocolate Trek • Crest Be Dynamic Lime Spearmint Zest • Crest Be Inspired Vanilla Mint Spark • Crest Pro-Health Healthy Fresh • Crest Pro-Health Smooth Mint.
This list may be out of date as companies have agreed to cut microbeads
And Crest are by no means the only company to do this. But you won’t know
as plastic isn’t and was never listed in the ingredients. Just to clarify – that’s even when the pastes did contain plastic beads. That’s a fact I find worrying.
Why are they there? It seems they added for decorative purposes only. However dental hygenists are concerned and I quote Trish Walraven
“I am not saying that polyethylene is causing gum problems. I’d be jumping too soon to that conclusion without scientific proof. But what I am saying definitively is that plastic is in your toothpaste, and that some of it is left behind even after you’re finished brushing and rinsing with it.”
Bits of plastic get stuck in your gums! But I strongly reccomend that you read her excellent article in full and then consider using a different dentifrice.
Companies have agreed to phase out microbeads. At least in countries where there is a pressure to do so but frankly I would take matters into your own hands and search out a plastic free alternative immediately. You can find some options here
What Else Is In Your Tooth Paste?
“Every toothpaste contains the following ingredients: binders, abrasives, sudsers, humectants, flavors (unique additives), sweeteners, fluorides, tooth whiteners, a preservative, and water. Binders thicken toothpastes. They prevent separation of the solid and liquid components, especially during storage. They also affect the speed and volume of foam production, the rate of flavor release and product dispersal, the appearance of the toothpaste ribbon on the toothbrush, and the rinsibility from the toothbrush. Some binders are karaya gum, bentonite, sodium alginate, methylcellulose, carrageenan, and magnesium aluminum silicate.
Abrasives scrub the outside of the teeth to get rid of plaque and loosen particles on teeth. Abrasives also contribute to the degree of opacity of the paste or gel. Abrasives may affect the paste’s consistency, cost, and taste.”
Read more about toothpaste and how it is made here
Break down of the ingredients
Standard (non-organic) toothpaste typically contain a set of ingredients that include:
Abrasives to clean bacterial film and debris from your teeth: Examples: Calcium carbonate, dehydrated silica gels, hydrated aluminum oxides, magnesium carbonate, phosphate salts and silicates. Silica is the whitening ingredient in most whitening toothpastes.
Detergents for cleaning and the foamy lather we expect from toothpaste. Examples: sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium N-Lauryl sarcosinate.
Fluoride – all American Dental Association (ADA)Accepted toothpastes contain fluoride, even organic ones.
Flavor including sweeteners such as saccharine. No ADA-Accepted toothpaste contains sugar.
Treatment additives such as tetrasodium pyrophosphate for tartar control, potassium nitrate or strontium chloride to reduce tooth sensitivity, Stannous fluoride and triclosan for reducing gum inflammation and removing plaque.
Humectants to keep the toothpaste moist. Examples: glycerol, propylene, glycol and sorbitol.
Binders to stabilize the toothpaste formula. Examples: mineral colloids, natural gums, seaweed colloids or synthetic cellulose.
Abrasives are the cleaning and polishing agents in commerical toothpaste.
They account for about a third of the toothpaste by weight.
Most abrasives are chalk or silica based.
They include dicalcium phosphate, sodium metaphosphate, calcium carbonate, silica, zirconium silicate or calcium pyrophosphate.
Abrasives differ in strength.
Abrasives help remove plaque and stains. However they can also,wear away the tooth enamel
The more abrasive the paste the more wearing it is
Relative dentin abrasivity (RDA) is a a way of measuring the effect that the abrasive components of the toothpaste have on a tooth.
The RDA scale was developed by the American Dental Association The higher the abrasive value the greater the wear on the enamal. Toothpaste makers regularly measure their product’s abrasivity. It’s necessary for FDA approval,
BY US law, a dentifrice is required to have a level lower than 250 to be considered safe .
0-70 Low abrasive: safe for cementum, dentin and enamel
70-100 Medium abrasive: safe for enamel, dangerous for cementum and dentin
100-150 High abrasive: dangerous for cementum, dentin and enamel
150-250 Very high abrasive: harmful limit, damaging for teeth
250 and above Not recommended
4 brushing teeth with water
7 baking soda
8 Arm & Hammer Tooth Powder
15 Weleda Salt Toothpaste
30 Elmex Sensitive Plus
35 Arm & Hammer Dental Care
42 Arm & Hammer Advance Whitening / Peroxide
44 Squiggle Enamel Saver
48 Arm & Hammer Dental Care Sensitive
49 Tom’s of Maine Sensitive
49-52 Arm & Hammer Peroxicare Regular
51 Crest with Scope
53 Rembrandt Original, Closys
57 Tom’s of Maine Children’s
60 Biotene Gel
63 Rembrandt Mint
68 Colgate Regular
70 Colgate Total, Arm & Hammer Advance White Sensitive, Colgate 2-in-1 Fresh Mint, Colgate Total
80 AIM, Close-Up, Biotene Paste with Fluoride
83 Colgate Sensitive Max Strength, Tooth and Gum Care
87 Nature’s Gate
91 Aquafresh Sensitive
93 Tom’s of Maine Regular
94 Rembrandt Plus
95 Crest Regular
97 Oxyfresh Powder
101 Natural White
104 Sensodyne Extra Whitening
106 Colgate Platinum, Arm & Hammer Advance White
107 Crest Sensitivity
110 Colgate Herbal, Amway Glister
113 Aquafresh Whitening
117 Arm & Hammer Advance White Gel, Arm & Hammer Sensation Tartar Control
120 Close-Up with Baking Soda
124 Colgate Whitening
130 Crest Extra Whitening
133 Ultra Brite
144 Crest Multicare Whitening
145 Ultra Brite Advanced Whitening Formula, Colgate Baking Soda Whitening
155 Crest Rejuvenating Effects
165 Colgate Tartar Control
168 Arm & Hammer Dental Care PM Fresh Mint
175 Colgate Luminous
176 Nature’s Gate Paste
160-190 Crest Pro Health Formulas
200 Colgate 2-in-1 Tartar Control / White
While most seem to think an RDA of around 50 is fine these guys take it lower.
“The lower the number, the less enamel/dentin it is likely to be worn away. The higher the number – the more wear on your dentition. The ideal toothpaste would not have a RDA index higher that 7; therefore dentifrices with a low abrasivity index are desirable.”
Lush toothy tabs were graded accordingly, and here are the results.
Oral Pleasure: 31 (Low abrasivity)
Dirty: 43 (Low abrasivity)
Miles of Smiles: 43 (Low abrasivity)
Bling!: 54 (Low abrasivity)
Limelight: 64 (Low abrasivity)
Sparkle: 70 (Medium abrasivity)
Boom!: 96 (Medium abrasivity)
The Cleaning Efficiency Index’ (CEI)
This is a very interesting article but sadly I can find no links to original research. Google hasn’t come up with anything either.
Researchers studying stains, abrasivity, and cleaning ability found that a relationship exists between the relative abrasivity and the cleaning ability. They came up with what they call ‘Cleaning Efficiency Index’ (CEI).
Let’s look at a couple examples of how this ‘Cleaning Efficiency Index’ works.
If for example, a product was low abrasive AND low cleaning ability, it’s efficiency index score was low too. If a product was high abrasive AND high cleaning ability, it’s efficiency could still be low.
The Cleaning Efficiency Index really ranks the combination of abrasivity in relation to cleaning ability.
What researchers were looking for was a product ingredient that was low abrasive AND high cleaning ability. This combination would give the highest ‘cleaning efficiency’ index score. Read the full article HERE
See all our posts on plasticfree dental care, HERE