Plastic Microbeads: You May Be Brushing With Them, But You Should Stop

DNN’s Tasia Custode reports that many of us are brushing our teeth with plastic microbeads. That’s probably not a great idea, and she explains why not in this report.

Plastic microbeads are small plastic beads that are commonly used in many personal care products, including toothpaste. The beads are usually made from polyethylene, a very common plastic. The most common use for polyethylene is in packaging. These tiny beads are often incorporated into face washes and body scrubs. But they are also included in some brands of toothpaste.

The problem with this plastic is that it is not biodegradable. It never disintegrates with age. Some plastics biodegrade, but polyethylene is not one of them. By using toothpastes containing plastic microbeads, we are putting these tiny, immortal plastic beads into our bodies. That may sound undesirable, but the question remains, is this a bad thing?

The bad part of the immortal plastic beads is that they can get trapped in a person’s mouth and can trap bacteria as well. Many dentists have found these bead in their patients’ mouths during routing cleaning. These dentists are urging their patients to stop using toothpastes that contain these tiny beads. If bacteria start to form on these beads, they can lead to gingivitis, and that can lead to periodontal disease. And no one wants periodontal disease.

There’s another thing to think about. When we wash away the microbeads from our teeth or our bodies, they go into the sewer and through sewer treatment processes. But since they are too small to be filtered out, they go into our nation’s waterways. That is a sobering thought. Some companies are pledging to eliminate their use of microbeads by 2017. In the meantime, we would all do well to pay attention to what we are putting on our bodies and into our mouths.

The Dentist News Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.

Posted on November 16, 2015 .