PHOENIX, Ariz. (CNN) — A dental hygienist in Phoenix noticed something strange in the mouths of her patients — and spoke up about it. Now a toothpaste manufacturer is taking action.
Trish Walraven has seen lots of things as a dental hygienist, but until a few years ago, she had never seen anything like this!
“We thought it was a cleaning product or something that people were chewing,” said Walraven.
Little blue dots were trapped in the tiny spaces between people’s teeth and gums.
“Some weeks I’ll see five or six patients,” Walraven said.
Walraven started asking around, and discovered that other hygienists were seeing the same thing.
It took awhile, but they finally figured out what it was: polyethylene.
It’s a plastic used in all kinds of things like garbage containers, grocery bags, bullet proof vests, even knee replacements, and not toothpaste.
Walvaren says one brand appears to use the plastic microbeads more than others.
“Pretty much everyone was saying that they used some form of Crest toothpaste,” Walraven said.
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, and that becomes periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is scary.”
Walraven wants the beads gone, too.
She wrote a blog that has gotten national attention. It even caught the eye of Proctor and Gamble.
In a statement to ABC 15 the Crest manufacturer said: “While the ingredient in question is completely safe, we understand there is a growing preference for us to remove the ingredient. So we will.”
Crest says the majority of its toothpaste will be microbead-free in six months.
They’ll be completely gone by March 2016.
If you want to make sure the product you’re using is microbead-free, take a look at the ingredient list and make sure it doesn’t include polyethylene.