'Secret' Ingredient in Toothpaste & Other Products May Be Cause for Concern

toothpaste on toothbrushWhenever I have a particularly garlic-packed meal, I always think of the scene in I Love You, Man in which Peter (played by Paul Rudd) comes home from a particularly disastrous night out during which he got sick, and his fiancee offers him natural mouthwash. He passes, noting that he's "gotta go with the chemicals on this." Ha, it's that bad, we all laugh.

But the thing is ... just how okay are we really with chemicals in our hygiene products? Do we really believe they make the products more effective? It's an interesting question ... and one that's being raised a lot lately in light of recent discussions about microplastics in toothpaste and other bath/body products.

Those little blue beads that make certain toothpastes look "extra-cleansing" are actually made from a type of plastic called PEG, or polyethylene glycol, which is primarily used for containers and packaging (like bottles and plastic grocery bags). Not only is PEG worrisome because it is not biodegradeable, but according to Environmental Working Group, or EWG, these polymers can be contaminated with potentially toxic manufacturing impurities such as 1,4-dioxane.

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Earlier this month, a dental hygienist named Trish Walraven wrote on DentalBuzz.com that she and her colleagues are finding these tiny particles lodged in many patients' gums. She isn't saying outright that the microplastics are causing gum problems, but she is concerned -- as a hygienist and a mom.

Meanwhile, toothpastes aren't the only items where PEG is lurking. The microplastic can also be found in skin exfoliators and similar personal care products ... No wonder it's a point of concern. But thankfully, knowledge is power, and consumers do have the power to trigger change.

How do you feel about "microplastic" in your toothpaste or other personal care products?


Image via toastyken/Flickr

natural health, general health


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Baile... Bailey8307


It's a terribly unnecessary form of pollution. I hope to see a ban on these in the near future.

bmommyx2 bmommyx2

I heard about them in skin care products being a pollution problem, but I had no idea it was in toothpaste I only buy natural ones.

lalab... lalaboosh

Not a problem for me, I use the natural stuff and it works well.

Lovel... LovelyLexy84

In the movie Paul Rudd doesn't brush his teeth because he got sick, he brushes them because he went out with a guy who kissed him (he was looking for a friend and the guy got mixed signals). And he kisses his fiance and she claims his breath tastes as if he has eaten an ash tray. She tells him to brush and he replies he will have to go with chemicals on this because he has already brush an x amount times. Chemicals as an bleach, comet, etc., it was a joke. 

jcsmm jcsmm

As a chemist, I just wanted to point out that the microplastic beads in the toothpaste are not made of PEG. They're made of polyethylene, which is what plastic bags, bottles, etc. are made of. Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is also used in some toothpastes and by itself is pretty non-toxic. It's true that it may contain traces of 1,4-dioxane, which is toxic, but PEG is widely used in many industries, including in cosmetics, and in food and drugs that we ingest.

Rando... Randomlady

wasn't there some article about this stuff being banned in certain states because of the waste it produces and gets into the water system?

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