Crest toothpaste embeds plastic in our gums

 

This is polyethylene:

bottlesandbags

Did you know that polyethylene is the most common plastic in the world? It is used primarily for containers and packaging, such as these bottles and plastic grocery bags, and has been a concern for the environment because polyethylene lasts practically forever and isn’t biodegradable. It only breaks down into smaller and smaller particles until you can’t see it anymore. That’s why a couple of states are trying to ban it in body scrubs and dental products.

This is also polyethylene:
PeasizedTPaste

Well, not all of it. Most of it is toothpaste. But do you see those blue specks? That’s plastic. This is the suggested pea-sized amount that you should use when you brush your teeth. Yes, there is plastic in this toothpaste.

Want to see how many pieces of plastic are in this exact sample?

PasteSmear

Not that I’m counting the bits but that seriously looks like A LOT of plastic… err…high density polyethylene. That’s what plastic trash cans are made from! If you throw away the box like most people do, the ingredients aren’t actually listed on the tube (sneaky, sneaky, Procter & Gamble!) However, I was able to track down the box here at this link. We’re not talking about polyethylene glycol, which is soluble in water. This stuff won’t dissolve in water, or even acetone or alcohol for that matter. How do I know it won’t dissolve? Because I put on my little scientist hat and tested it.

Like many of you, we often let our daughter pick out her own toothpaste at the store. She liked the tween vibe of this particular product so much that she chose it twice, but eventually the squeezed-out tubes ended up in the back of her toothpaste drawer.

Crestforme

When I first got wind that plastic was in some toothpastes, it was kind of exciting to realize that we had some on hand! And a bit concerning, because, after all, this is in my own home, used by my own child. Able to confirm that, sure enough, there was polyethylene in this toothpaste, I squirted out a pea-sized sample, mixed it up with some water, strained out the undissolved particles and let them dry on a paper towel. Oh, and I used a hair dryer to speed things up because I’m impatient. Then I shook approximately half of the sample into each of two pyrex bowls and added some household solvents:

acetonealcohol

They didn’t dissolve in the acetone, (nail polish remover) or in the alcohol either. I even left the samples in the solutions overnight, then re-hydrated them. No change in the particles.

specks1polyethylenefinger

So it has been established here that polyethylene will not dissolve in the mouth, or even in household products. It is an inert substance, which means that it doesn’t change at all. You know, that’s pretty good in some ways, because at least it’s probably not morphing into big blobs of plastic evil cancer bait.

Here’s where the story gets scary, though.

You see, I’m not just a concerned mom. I’m also a dental hygienist. And I’m seeing these same bits of blue plastic stuck in my patients’ mouths almost every day.

Around our teeth we have these little channels in our gums, sort of like the cuticles around our fingernails. The gum channel is called a sulcus, and it’s where diseases like gingivitis get their start. A healthy sulcus is no deeper than about 3 millimeters, so when you have hundreds of pieces of plastic being scrubbed into your gums each day that are even smaller than a millimeter, many of them are getting trapped:

plasticingums

The thing about a sulcus is that it’s vulnerable. Your dental hygienist spends most of their time cleaning every sulcus in your mouth, because if the band of tissue around your tooth isn’t healthy, then you’re not healthy. You can start to see why having bits of plastic in your sulcus may be a real problem, sort of like when popcorn hulls find their way into these same areas. Ouch, right?

Like I said, I’ve been seeing these blue particles flush out of patients’ gums for several months now. So has the co-hygienist in our office. So have many dental hygienists throughout the United States and Canada who have consulted with each other and realized that we have a major concern on our hands.

This is what an actual polyethylene speck looks like when it’s embedded within the sulcus, under the gumline:

gingival specks

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.

Do you want plastic in your toothpaste? So far the only mention of polyethylene on the Official Crest website at this link is that it is added to your paste for color, not as an aid in helping to clean your teeth or to disperse important anti-plaque or anti-cavity ingredients. [Note: as of 9/3/14 Crest took down the link about polyethylene, but I saved a copy of it here in case this ever happened.]

In other words, according to Crest:

Polyethylene plastic is in your toothpaste for decorative purposes only.

This is unacceptable not only to me, but to many, many hygienists nationwide. We are informing our patients. We are doing research separately and comparing notes. And until Procter & Gamble gives us a better reason as to why there is plastic in your toothpaste, we would like you to consider discontinuing the use of these products.

Here are some of the brands (click each to see their ingredient list and labeling) that we currently are aware of which contain polyethylene:

What you can do

At this point, it’s probably best if you leave your flaming torches back in the barn. We’re not going after witches or Frankenstein here; you’re using your power as a consumer to send a message that you do NOT want plastic in your toothpaste. Heck, you might even be worrying about what may happen if you or your children swallow some of it.

1. If you’ve already purchased one of these toothpastes you can take it back to the retailer where you bought it, make sure that the manufacturer knows why you’re returning it, and ask for a refund.

2. Lodge a Crest consumer complaint at (800) 959-6586 and report an adverse health effect, namely, that you’re concerned that plastic pieces may be getting trapped in your mouth.

3. Click here to send an email to Procter & Gamble, the makers of Crest.

4. Share this! Let your friends and family know that you are also concerned about the plastic in their toothpaste by clicking on your favorite social media link below and getting the word out.

Response to criticism

Procter & Gamble’s current party line? “We will discontinue our use of PE micro plastic beads in skin exfoliating personal care products and toothpastes as soon as alternatives are qualified.”

And your response then may be, “I will discontinue MY use of Crest toothpaste until there are no more decorative microplastics entering my mouth.”

 

Trish Walraven RDH, BSDH is a mom and practicing dental hygienist in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas. She is also the co-creator of BlueNote Communicator, the top selling intra-office computer messaging system for dental and medical offices.

 

References and acknowledgements

Plastic Trades Industry: http://www.plasticsindustry.org/AboutPlastics
US National Library of Medicine: http://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/crest
HygieneTown: http://www.hygienetown.com/blue-dots-in-patients-mouths

And a HUGE thank you goes out to my friend and colleague Erika B. Feltham, RDH for bringing this problem to our attention and for her extensive research. Erika is dedicated to providing the best possible care for her patients. She has been active in the dental profession for over 30 years, is a recipient of the 2008 American Dental Hygiene Association/Johnson and Johnson Hygiene Hero Award, the 2010 RDH Sunstar Americas (GUM Dental)Award of Distinction, lectures extensively about the harmful effects of sour candies, energy and sports drinks, and along with her San Diego component, she is responsible for presenting the resolution on sour candy labeling at the 2009 CDHA House of Delegates.

Update on 9/10/14:

As requested, here’s a quick video I made today that demonstrates polyethylene microbeads becoming embedded after brushing. This is for real; I didn’t poke the plastic in my gums (although I may have brushed a little more rough than normal!).
 

Comments

  1. Eva says

    Trish,

    This piece was remarkable. On behalf of myself, and my patients I plan on alerting this issue to, I can’t thank you enough for reporting these findings. Also, Erika Fulham deserves an enormous amount of thanks for her research into this problem.

    Eva Watson RDH

    • buzzadmin says

      Thanks Eva. Yes, if it weren’t for Erika I don’t think any of us would have realized the blue specks that so many hygienists (and dentist for that matter!) have been seeing under people’s gums was plastic. I hope that this story continues to get out there.

      • Thessley says

        Hi! Wow I really love crest and am even tempted to continue using but this is ridiculous! I have one question how do we remove the plastic bits from our gums?

        • Bruce says

          Sorry to say, *you* probably can’t. Your friendly dental hygienist can, more work for him/her. As a chemist, I will say chemically they should be inert/harmless. However, they could attract fats and such, and with those potentially bacteria. And mechanically they might be irritating. Do you really want to be a guineapig?

        • says

          Trish! You’ve done an outstanding job discovering this hygienic malfeasance from P&G. I use Crest toothpaste and I had to get up off my computer to double check my tube, to verify if the plastic product was listed on this site. Thank goodness it wasn’t. I applaud your thorough investigation, as much as I could say about my attorney. I love P&G’s products so I’m glad they’re making changes. Keep up the good work and I may one day set up an appointment for you to clean my teeth.

      • Trish Walraven says

        Here’s an excerpt from an article that refutes Procter & Gamble and their FDA polyethylene clearance:

        The FDA, for its part, says it has never approved microbeads to be put in toothpaste, which it considers to be an over-the-counter drug. Polyethylene is allowed to come in contact with food, but there has been no ruling saying it is safe to consume.

        And since the microbeads are not considered to be an active ingredient in toothpaste, the FDA hasn’t been monitoring them. The agency puts the onus on manufacturers to determine the safety of inactive ingredients in OTC drugs.

        “For over-the-counter monograph drug products, such as Crest toothpaste, manufacturers have the responsibility to ensure that all inactive ingredients are safe and suitable for their intended use,” said FDA spokesman Jeff Ventura. “If a product’s inactive ingredients are determined by the agency to pose a health risk for consumers, the agency may have the manufacturer address the issue, or take other appropriate enforcement actions. FDA is not immediately aware of any safety issues with this product.”

        As for claims that the FDA has approved polyethylene’s use as an additive in foods, which would mean it’s OK to add it to toothpaste, the FDA responded that that is wrong on two fronts.

        “By definition, food additives are for their intended use in food,” Ventura said. “Toothpaste is regulated as a drug product and is not considered food.”

        “Polyethylene is the subject of several effective food contact notifications and is included in several food additive regulations for use in food contact materials. It is approved for use in several indirect or food contact applications, but not for direct addition to food. It is also approved for use as a protective coating on some certain fresh fruits and vegetables (such as bananas), and certain nuts in shells. Food contact substance applications for polyethylene include: plastic wraps, bags and food containers.”

        Read the rest of the article

        • David Abraham says

          I was going to throw out this damn toothpaste — but maybe I should keep it to scrub my face. I wonder what other hidden jewels P&G has in its other products. This whole thing makes me sick. You can trust them to try to whiten your teeth. You can’t trust them not to poison you!

    • Desmond L. says

      TQ Eva for highlighting this awareness which came about through another dear friend, Marilyn Ann Seemann from Philadelphia.
      I am from the Netherlands and I don’t see any of the Crest line of toothpastes but did saw them across the pond in the UK retail shelves.
      It is very disturbing to read up on these findings esp. undertaken by Trish Walraven.

      I have been using Parodontax since I met my Belgian Dental Hygiene Specialist in 2001 and to date, my gums are hygienically strong and clean and I won’t use any other ever since.

    • mojasowa says

      Also please keep in mind these tiny plastic beads are not filtered by any municipal flltration system and pollute our waters and poison wildlife. Illinois just banned these from face washes and toothpastes but companies have 5 more years to “phase out production”. That’s a lot of unnecessary damage to the ecosystem and water quality of the great lakes and rivers for “decorative purposes”.

      • Eli says

        My husband and I have used some of these toothpastes for a long time up until now. Heck, my kids have used these toothpastes too and It really makes me very upset to know that companies allow these things to happen. I know for a fact, that there are other bad ingredients and chemicals being used not just in Crest products but in many more products that we don’t know about because no one has stepped forward about it. It’s a terrible feeling knowing that you can’t trust any company to provide its consumers with honest products. Every company should be put under scrutiny to make sure they don’t conduct their business in a dishonest manner. Whatever happened to taking care of your customers, or was that ever the case?

    • Colleen says

      I am getting a lawyer to sue CREST! The 3d toothpaste broke my mouth out and burned it up badly!! It also made the corners of my mouth ooze blood!!! I used it 3 times and have not used it in a week but my mouth is still sore and feels like sandpaper was ran accross my tongue. ,, especially the tip…. I also had a few blue plastic bits stuck in my gums. I had to gently brush them away. I am so ANGRY at CREST!!! THANK YOU FOR THIS INFO! I HOPE CREST GOES OUT OF BUSINESS!

      • Lyn says

        I was using the first one on the list….and I got this huge sore in the bottom of my mouth. I couldn’t figure out what was causing it and I went to the store and picked up another brand of toothpaste! It was like my mouth was badly burned and very painful….hard to eat for several weeks. It needs to come off the market!

        • Kasey says

          My husband was just diagnosed with periodontal disease last year and he has been using crest for YEARS. Wondering if that may be why…hmmm….and also the treatments are expensive…wondering if I should get a lawyer also.

          • Kim says

            Kasey, there are many different factors that contribute to periodontal disease and although I am very against crest using this ingredient in their toothpastes, it is unlikely that the toothpaste is the cause of his periodontal disease.

      • Margie says

        Wow…I thought I was the only one who had problems with Crest toothpaste causing my mouth to be sore or burning….thanks everyone for sharing this problem…No more Crest for me!

  2. Pamela Pastura says

    I’m on it…Thank you so very much for this great information! I’m sure you saw Proctor and God in the news lately…In Cincinnati. My home town. I’m surely going to pass this information on to my many health related/ organic/ conservation sites.

    • Priscilla White says

      My response to Pamela from Cincinnati who referred to the large consumer goods company as Proctor and God,how about at least spelling Procter correctly,a “pet peeve” of mine about many who are basically clueless!

        • Luis Rocha says

          Yes Pamela, really. It’s because of mentalities like that (the ones that think that it’s OK to make small mistakes because it doesn’t harm anyone) that made Procter & Gamble use the plastics. If we don’t pay attention to the small details, how will we do with the larger things in life? One misspelled words might not kill anyone, but just like a snowflake has the potential to turn into a huge rolling snowball, it too can grow into something dangerous, in exactly the same way that little speck of plastic can do tremendous damage to your mouth, and that’s not even considering other health effects from ingesting them.

  3. Lupe Charsagua says

    Thanks for the information. I’m NOT surprised this company would do this. I will definitely pass the word on this problem. Thank you for caring! Lupe Charsagua RDH

  4. Julie says

    I am a hygienist and I see little blue specks every now and then too!! I’m so glad to have read this! How ridiculous to add plastic just for color! Thanks for sharing!

    • Broderic says

      I’m not defending Crest in any way, I think the idea yah they would put plastic in our toothpaste purely for decorative purposes is rediculous, but I think a big reason a lot of dental hygenists see this is because people (myself included, I have to admit) tend to brush right before they go to the dentist, not because it’s been there all day. Think of it as cramming for a final.

      • Trish Walraven says

        I hope you’re right, Broderic. This would be very, very bad stuff if it is causing harm. Right now, all we know factually is that it is showing up in people’s gums at their dental hygiene visits.

      • Sue says

        I hope you are right about not staying in the sulcus very long, however as a hygienist I have seen this before. I had questioned the patient and they told me that they haven’t ate all day (their appt was in the afternoon) because they didn’t want food in their teeth. I took pictures of it, because I was very puzzled. I saw it 2x in one day and then not as much recently. But I feel the mystery is solved! thank you for posting.

      • Janelle says

        That concerns me too Broderic because if they are only seeing the specks in people that “just brushed” then that means they are being washed into our body when we eat and drink! I, for one, am not at all comfortable with the idea of these things floating around in my body……ewwwww

        • says

          Are these beads made of the same plastic in the bottled water that we shouldn’t reuse because of the toxicity of the chemical in the plastic? But the plastic is okay to ingest if it is in toothpaste? Hmmmmm…

  5. Corina says

    Crest toothpaste is the predominate toothpaste handed by my dentist. I am handed the small travel size tubes and my kids get the children’s variety. Is this because Crest offers discounts or any benefits to the dentist to push their products?.

    • Penny says

      I am a hygienist and our office hands out Crest products. We have to purchase all of our products, no discounts, no kickbacks, no benefits. I personally grew up on Crest & have used it all my life and this doesn’t change my mind about using it.

      • Laurie, RDH says

        Penny, the Crest you grew up on did not contain plastic particles! Im not bashing Crest/P:&G, but i cannot in good conscience recommend the above mentioned products.

      • Candy says

        This may be true, but I have never been able to use Crest because it causes canker sores (every time).. I don’t know, but am wondering if this is why.

        • Shelia says

          Crest toothpaste causes my gums to become red and inflamed AND I also get canker sores every time I use it. I am allergic to rubber and plastics….now I know why I have such horrible results when using Crest! I do not use and do not recommend.

          • Bruce says

            Are you allergic to polyethylene? Aside from Teflon, would expect it to be quite hypoallergenic. I could imagine nylon causing allergy, being an amide (like proteins, which cause many true allergies–milk for instance for me). No plasticizers likely either, as in flexible vinyl.

        • Cindy says

          Check your label for SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) as this is documented to cause mouth ulcers. Still could just be your Crest. Always made me gag, so I was a Colgate user.

        • Mary says

          There is a chemical in some toothpaste that cause horrible canker sores and bumps on my tongue when I use a toothpaste containing this chemical…it’s called SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate). Read the box label and your canker sores will disappear!

          • Steve says

            I had the same problem in my mouth canker sores while using toothpastes and mouthwashes that contained Sodium Lauryl Sulfate in them. Since I stopped using brands and lines of other brands that did not have SLS in them I have had no problem with canker sours and that was 3 years ago. Before that time I had them in my mouth for about 200 days a year. Sadly SLS is a derivative of coconut oil and is found in several organic food lines of products as well.

        • Pam says

          I can’t use Colgate because my mouth breaks out in sores, but the plain, old-fashioned Crest works fine for me. And it has no little blue plastic bits. All those fancy ones kill my mouth.

          • Frank says

            that is an incredible list of toothpastes that P/G makes when just the plain works just fine. The whitening ones I have always been afraid of and as it turns out the fancy blue ones should be avoided. I say that if you are wanting your teeth whitened you should have your dentist do it. Be aware of anything in a box,can,bottle,or tube–you do not know what they have done to the contents…..

      • Krista says

        I have to comment on the plastic in Crest toothpaste. The company does not have to have it in there. So why in the world would they just for looks. Not good and I will not use it ever and will tell as many people I come in contact with on a daily basis not to use it. And yes it does stay in the sulcus.

        • kyle arizona says

          Yes its obvious its in there for price purposes.. how has this been skipped over so many times by everyone they are basically getting “cheap recycled plastic” and using it as “filler” the same way taco bell and jack in the box and mcdonalds add “fillers” to there “meat”

  6. Penny says

    I’m not sure this is any worse than Colgate’s addition of triclosan to their Total products. Although conclusive studies have not been done there is some thought that using antibacterial soaps containing triclosan may cause thyroid problems in some people, other hormonal issues have been reported in animal studies also. If that can happen from what we absorb on our skin, how much are we absorbing in our mouths?? I think all of these companies need to stop using so many chemicals and hiding it from the consumers. If someone doesn’t know what these ingredients are (even if they’re listed) how are we to make an informed decision as to whether or not we want them in our bodies?

    • Trish Walraven says

      Is it worse? I think so. A Cochrane review recently published shows that Triclosan significantly improves gum health, which plastic does not. Also, in regards to triclosan disturbing hormones, this quote is directly from Colgate:
      – Soy contains phytoestrogens. To match the effect of one cup of soy milk on estrogen hormones, an adult would need to brush with Colgate Total nearly 100,000 times in a day.

      I am not compensated by Colgate or Crest. There are products by both companies with ingredients that are NOT in question. It is up to you to make the choice what toothpaste to recommend to your patients.

      • Robin Richards says

        What is a good tartar control toothpaste? I just bought “The mother load ” of crest 3D White and after your posting I’m convinced and going to return it today!

    • marie says

      AMEN Where was the American Dental Association in all this while Crest was using plastic? Thankyou for your information on Dental Buzz. My trust in Proctor and Gamble Crest is over. Consumers rule don’t forget your power over products.

  7. Laurie Grabiak says

    Fantastic post! And great timing too as my first two patients of the day had those now infamous blue specks under their gingiva. I was able to remove them and show the patients that they had tiny pieces of plastic hiding in their gums. They were apalled to learn that the plastic was added to the toothpaste for visual purposes only. Thanks for such an informative article!

  8. says

    Four questions:

    1) Does anyone know WHY they are adding these bits of plastic?

    2) How long have they been doing this? IOW, is this new or has it been going on for some time?

    3) Does anyone know if there’s any clinical significance to the bits of plastic?

    4) Has P&G indicated that the plastic is put in to accomplish anything?

    My first thought is that maybe this has been going on for a long time but no one noticed, in which case this really may be much ado about nothing. Or maybe not, I don’t know.
    Secondly, if it is a recent addition, I wonder why it was added? Was there a purpose to it? Just because it was added doesn’t mean that it’s bad, or good – we don’t seem to have enough information yet.
    Thirdly, I haven’t noticed this with any of our patients, but I will ask my hygienist if she has.

    Thank you for the post; it is pretty thorough and to-the-point.

    • Trish Walraven says

      Not really, Dr. Payet. Erika is trying to get an answer from P & G but the only definitive statement I could find is this:

      http://news.crest.com/faq-item/crest-complete-faq/what-polyethylene

      It states:

      Q:
      What is polyethylene?
      A:
      The small green particle found in the Extreme Herbal Mint flavor of Crest Whitening Expressions is made of polyethylene. It’s a safe, inactive ingredient used to provide color.

      No clinical significance known. This has been in paste for a while, years? But 3 months ago with the help of HygieneTown many of us began comparing notes and realized what it is we’ve been seeing in our patients’ gums for who knows how long.

      Thanks for the questions! I’m sure we’ll have more answers soon.

      • Eva says

        If Crest marketed this as whitening, then wouldn’t an abrasive be needed to abrade enamel to remove surface stain? Polyethelyne is quite abrasive. Perhpas Crest’s researchers tested the polyethelyne and it worked well in their trials. That’s my first guess.

        • Bruce says

          Polyethylene abrasive? To gums perhaps, but it’s VERY soft compared to things like tooth enamel. Hard to imagine it removing stains. It is in fact used as an antifrictio material; low molecular weights are waxes.

  9. Karen says

    I have been frustrated with Crest over Pro-Health and sensitivity. I feel it is too abrasive. Now their “sensitivity” toothpaste is pro health and I feel its too abrasive as well. I haven’t done enough research to find out why. Im trying several Colgate Sensitivity pastes instead.

    • Wanda says

      Karen,
      I agree with you. I have recommended to my patients to discontinue using any crest pro health products, including rinses, because of sensitivity and heavy accumulation of calculus full mouth. I have talked to our crest rep and he said he has never heard of this. I have patients with great oral hygiene that have come back after six months with stain and calculus that has not been there before….they had switched to crest pro health.

    • Joseph says

      C’mon, try to get the facts straight before you comment. The ADA states that an RDS value of under 250 is completely safe. Before stating that ProHealth is a high abrasive you should first check out the facts. RDA of Pro Health is in the 160-190: completely safe.

      • BossierBabe says

        Just because some board says a product is safe does NOT mean it is. Take for instance back in the 1930’s when formaldehyde was deemed “safe” for human consumption, was placed in milk, given to babies, and killed many!!! You can’t trust these agencies. Sorry! That is why, as medical professionals, we report any adverse findings in drugs/products such as Crest Pro Health toothpaste as stated in the post above. Developing large amounts of calculi and stains after switching to this product can’t just be coincidence being that it happened in several patients!!!

        • mandi says

          I was getting occasional small calculi ‘stones’ (not sure the correct term to use) near the back of my mouth when I was using crest pro health. I never would have put the two together. For the last year and a half I have used kid’s crest and haven’t had a single one. Interesting.

  10. says

    Very interesting piece. I have not seen the “blue spots” in my patients’ tissues. I’ve asked my RDH, and she hasn’t seen any, either. We both use magnification. Just haven’t seen it.

    • says

      Thank you TheDentalWarrior.

      I have never seen the “blue spots” in my patients’ tissues either. I asked the dentists and hygienists in our dental community also if they had seen this and they have not seen it. I would think that if “blue polyethylene beads” were imbedded in patients gums that this would have been reported in the dental scientific literature.

      In any case, the blue beads in Crest toothpaste, whether decorative or abrasive, are being removed.

  11. says

    Thank you for sharing this. I have for a while recommended patients stay away from any “whitening” toothpaste because they are too abrasive (some 33x more than baking soda!) which is damaging to teeth and can cause gum recession even in healthy patients who brush and floss, and this confirms my suspicions.
    FYI, unlike MD’s, we do not get ANY benefits from recommending anything to our patients (toothpastes, floss, toothbrushes or even the prescriptions medications that we write Rx for). So if your dentist is recommending Crest, it’s because they do think it’s a good toothpaste and you should share with them this info to let them know it’s not the case. I used to recommend Crest quite a bit, but I have not done so for a while (because of the abrasiveness issue with most of their toothpastes) and certainly will not recommend it now that this polyethelyne issue has come to light.

    • Trish Walraven says

      I’m not aware of any others that contain polyethylene besides Crest products. If you do find some please let us know.

      • Ron Serafine says

        Hi, Ms. Walraven;
        I have been using Metadent -I prefer the plain when I can get it- for @ least 20 years. I have a stock of it from an order for 6 double-content boxes I received months ago.

        It apparently has not only polyethylene but also sodium lauryl sulfate in it. in addition, it also has phosphoric acid!

        Here is the complete list of ingredients copied (& checked) from the box label:
        Active ingredient: Sodium Fluoride (0.24%)
        Inactive ingredients: water, sorbitol, glycerin, hydrated silica, poloxamer 407, sodium bicarbonate, zinc citrate trihydrate, PEG-32, sodium lauryl sulfate, SD alcohol 38-B, flavor, hydrogen peroxide, cellulose gum, sodium saccharin, polyethylene, phosphoric acid, sucralose, blue 1 lake, blue 1, titanium dioxide.
        Thanks for your research and the posting of it all. Our local ABC affiliate picked up on it (http://www.10news.com/news/u-s-world/concerns-expressed-over-ingredient-added-to-some-toothpastes).

  12. Debra says

    Just curious what those sparkles are made of in the Kid’s Sparkle Fun toothpaste.

    We have returned all of our patient samples of the products listed above and told Procter and Gamble we will not use their products until the issues have been resolved.

    Unfortunately, these micro-beads have made their way to the Great Lakes. Polyethylene is an immune system intoxicant. The marine life will no doubt ingest these beads thinking they are food. The ramifications of this contamination, I’m sure will be more extensive than we care to believe.

    • buzzadmin says

      The sparkles are most likely mica, which is also in the Crest Just For Me that was tested in this study. Glad that you were able to voice your opinion by returning products, and hopefully we’ll have an answer from P&G soon.

      • Bruce says

        OK, does it bother anyone else that mica is in toothpaste? IMHO, that’s worse than PE… bizarre how much form counts over function. Am I right?

  13. Victoria says

    I’m also a dental hygiene and have seen several patients come in with these blue specs around their gums. One of the pieces I pulled out was located on facial # 7 approximately 3 mm under the gingiva. I couldn’t figure out what it was until now! Thanks so much for the information :)

    • says

      The sparkle fun Crest toothpaste I just bought for my son lists hydrated silica and mica but no polyethylene. What is hydrated silica and mica, and are they also detrimental to gums? Thanks

    • Trish says

      If you read the article we specifically stated that the product is not polyethylene glycol. That dissolves in water. High density polyethylene does not. We are talking solid plastic that will melt together into a larger piece of plastic if it is separated from the rest of the toothpaste.

  14. Allison says

    Yesterday I went to have my 6 month teeth cleaning. The dental hygenists asked me if I used Crest, which I did. She found one of these plastic blue pieces stuck under my gum line. Needless to say I won’t ever use Crest again. As a breast cancer survivor I don’t need anything that could be cancer causing in body. I’m very disappointed with Proctor and Gamble and their response.

  15. Darlene Kehetian RDH says

    This is a very interesting and informative article! Thank you to all that have researched this information and brought it to public awareness! As a practicing dental hygienist I will take this valuable information and deliver it to my patients along with taking action to make a change. Thank you again!

  16. Susan says

    My son came home from science class and told me we should stop using Crest because of what was in it. So we did. Thank you son and science teacher! We won’t be using this product anymore..

  17. suzanne mckenzie says

    A major problem with these bits of plastic is that they end up in our lakes and resemble fish food. Its very bad for fish to have their stomachs full of plastic!

  18. Julie B. Smith says

    And while we are on that topic: we do NOT need sodium laurel sulphate, nor do we need dye/food coloring in our toothpaste either.

  19. Ashley, RDH says

    I knew something was up with these little blue sprinkles! I’ve been telling my patients to avoid these toothpastes for awhile now.

  20. Kim says

    Besides the affect on our bodies by using these plastics, I am horribly concerned about adding MORE plastics to our environment. They will never, ever go away. We know that the oceans are filled with giant globs of plastic goop which comes from this type of consumption, and which is affecting the entire ocean ecosystems, and thus our planet. Wake up greedy corporate world – we’re all in this together for generations to come…. Let’s not be the generation that kills off our species just for some sparklies in our toothpaste!

  21. Mallory says

    Thank you for this article! Me and my husband have been using Crest 3D White toothpaste for about a year. I have always wondered why we constantly have blue specks in our sink…and they never dissolve. I should have known better! We have thrown out our Crest and switched to Colgate for now since reading this. We both have noticed our gums recession. We feel like this may be the cause? If not, it can’t be helping. Thanks for taking the time to research!

  22. Kelly Brackeen says

    Thank you so much for this! I have seen this in my Pts but was unaware until now what it was. I will be sharing this w the Doc!
    Kelly Brackeen, RDH

  23. Cyglenda says

    I recently had a patient that had a blue speck imbedded under her gumline on the facial of her canine tooth. This was the first time I had seen this happen. She said she has this happen a good bit. I was wondering why this hadn’t dissolved and now I know it was plastic!

  24. Julie says

    I posted earlier how I have seen these blue particles and today, I had a patient that had about 5-6 of them. I approached it that it’s not conclusive but explained what I had heard and how I want to look into it more. When I asked him what toothpaste he used, he said he brushed with crest just before his appointment. I’m very curious to hear more about this!

  25. Reid Barclay says

    I have heard of a report on some research done in British Columbia, Canada that they estimated there are about ( or more) 900,000 of these particles per 1 cubic meter of water flowing in the Fraser river at Vancouver! this is where the Fraser River enters the Pacific Ocean!

  26. says

    This is crazy. I wouldn’t expect anything less from sucks an inherently evil company. I wonder why none of the professionals named above hadn’t brought up a simple change to another brand? There are far superior brands such as Jason Sea Fresh, Desert Essenece Tea Tree, Tom’s ( although owned by c&g) which would rebuild enamel, contain no sls, artificial sweeteners, and best of all ( which not a single, “professional” brought up- No Flouride. That should be your answer, As you can help patients rebuild enamel, and preserve the gum line without any trace of plastics. It’s quite simple, these super corporations don’t want healthy teeth, they want you to buy their products. With all do respect you doctors and hygenists can be so naive. If you don’t want plastics in your mouth do some research. Best of luck to you all!

  27. george pearson says

    yall soooo funny, your prob all scared of your shadows! if it wont break down then whats the worry? it will be flushed from your body just as it entered it, ohhh wait, its a “CHEMICAL” !!! my GOD, we are all going to die! so is air and water, they are chemicals, and our bodies are chemicals! just as those that scream monsanto is intentially killing us all, makes sense, once they do that they have no-one left to buy their products so they will prob just comite suicide !

    • Anna says

      It’s interesting how quickly one can tell the comments made by medical professionals from those made by people who are more suited to remastering eighth-grade English. Lends a lot to your argument.

      • Bruce says

        And how about other professionals? GP is correct that the whole visible and invisible world is “chemicals”–I’m a chemist. I try to avoid/dispel myths in the pseudoscience realm. I found the triclosan info above interesting. Had a (mild) argument with a fellow Chen type concerning it in soap–I believe that’s a bad idea, as it will kill weaker bacteria. In the mouth? Not sure I want it there, but do use Colgate. What I’d like to see more of is Xylitol. Y’all chew on that one. :-)

  28. Sandra says

    Try using something not manufactured in North America, and you may be surprised to see real health benefits. My favourite is Meswak, made by Dabur. It claims 70 health benefits, including fluoride from natural plant sources, instead of the nuclear byproduct used in most common toothpastes. http://www.dabur-usa.com/Meswak-toothpaste.html. I started using this years ago to get away from mint in toothpaste
    I no longer see a periodontist. There may or may not be a link.
    There are many other alternative to corporate choices, but, as with any product, due diligence needs to go beyond advertiser claims, One popular alternative toothpaste stripped enamel from my teeth, and I found myself repairing multiple cavities suddenly.

  29. Mary Kay says

    Just wanted you to know that Crest Pro-Health Sensitive + Enamel Shield also has polyethylene. Sending photos of ingredients to Dental Buzz by email.

  30. Vicky says

    I wonder if Colgate are using this plastic? They have a brand out advertising ‘micro fine crystals’ to whiten teeth.

  31. Lindy says

    Not another article supposedly presenting a well-researched ‘factual’ debunking of toothpaste! I would never stop using something simply on the say so of one or two ‘experts’. Like all research outcomes, it needs to be based on the evidence of many, and proven beyond reasonable doubt. Opinion, speculation, and theory pulled together with vague references to how a substance or element works in totally different environments or preparations does not make a proven scientific study. Interesting theory though.

    • Trish Walraven says

      No debunking happening here, Lindy. We’ve gotten reports from at least fifty other hygienists. They are seeing these specks retained under people’s gum lines. We are simply reporting that they are in fact plastic, and that consumers deserve to know that plastic is in their toothpaste.

    • AlphaCentauri says

      I thought this post was very balanced. The point isn’t that the plastic has been proven harmful. The point is that there is no beneficial purpose for putting it there in the first place. The burden of proof is on the manufacturer to show that the risk/benefit ratio of the additive justifies its presence. And if there’s no benefit and there is potential for harm, why include it?

      Polyethylene really is inert. It isn’t going to cause cancer for the same reason it isn’t going to dissolve in water or solvents. It’s probably only ending up in the gums because it is being jammed there by the toothbrush bristles, which is what happens when toothbrushes are used as designed. It’s probably not even accumulating in colonic diverticuli, because they produce mucus that would flush them out. OTOH, they probably are floating on the surface of waterways in a thin film which might affect insect larvae and fish fry that are small enough to have those thing jam up their digestive tracts. Adult fish, not so much.

      • Bruce says

        I think you hit a nail on the head here, a more important concern. Nano-particles can also cause those types of problems, where chunks of the same don’t.

  32. Angela Reichert says

    I was freaking out about the blue specks in my gums, I called crest, I was given corporate mumbo jumbo, I said that was not good enough and I wanted to know what they were made of and how to get rid of them, a supervisor was supposed to call me that day, nobody called, nobody cares, the specks have been in my gums for a month!
    I don’t care if they “send me a gift card for my refund” it will cost me at least 10 times that to go to the dentist to see if they can get them out!
    DONE WITH CREST!

  33. says

    Hello all. A big shout out, thanks and hats off to Trish and Erika for bringing this to our attention and for being inquisitive enough to put 2+2 together! After I found out about this issue I called Crest and was so frustrated with their lack of care that I started a petition. They initially said they would have someone contact me and that has yet to happen. I did get a P&G reps email from Erika and I started a petition. I would like to see this thing take off so that we can get some results from Crest and show that this is not only a dental hygienist concern but a consumer product and overall health concern.

    The petition is listed under “website” please sign and share. Thank You

    • Trish Walraven says

      Thank you Janae! Anyone who wants to sign the petition can click on her name in the comment above to be taken to that link.

    • Sylvia says

      If someone starts the petition at change.org change will happen. It’s an incredible website. I rarely feed this to my child but I know many families that do–we were able to get the dye removed from Kraft dinner.

  34. Laura says

    Thank you so much for sharing this info! I knew there was something up with Crest, I see issues that I can’t explain and now this gives me the information I need to help patients with gum irritation that just doesn’t resolve.

    • Trish Walraven says

      Jodu, the polyethylene plastic specks are in the Crest For Me toothpastes which are marketed to older children. I am currently not aware of any other children’s product lines which contain them.

  35. Marina says

    Trish, I’ve been telling my patients for years not to use ProHealth toothpaste. Since Crest came out with, I have not had a single person improve on their tissue tone – instead, everyone has more inflammation and sensitivity. To the earlier remark about Triclosan in Colgate – somehow, that’s not an issue for any of my patients, the ProHealth products, however, are.
    Thank you for your time and research!

  36. Harlan says

    Our child is putting together a science fair experiment, likely having to do with the measurement of the polyethylene content in these toothpastes, and I was curious if you had any more details or photographs on the quantities of what you found.

  37. Erin says

    That is one of the many reasons why we dont used those types of toothpaste anymore. We use the Toms all natural toothpaste.

  38. Judy Densmore says

    This is very interesting. I am also a dental hygienist and recently had a patient who had been using Crest 3D White paste. She presented with what appeared like an amalgam tattoo on the gingiva in areas throughout her mouth. When I scaled subgingival, I was able to dislodge these blue crystals. I am going to talk with our rep from P & G. Maybe we need to be using Tom’s of Maine!

    • Trish says

      Generally speaking most toothpastes are considered “safe.” If you have reactions to certain products then you should not use them. Biotene is well-tolerated by people who cannot use soapy toothpastes (most brands).
      If you want to avoid all possible irritants, just use a good toothbrush and clean your teeth with water. It’s as equally effective at removing plaque as using toothpaste if you know how to brush properly.

  39. Christine says

    What you can do

    #5. Don’t buy Crest toothpaste. Don’t use it. Don’t give it to your children.

    As if saccharin and food dyes were not enough to dissuade anyone from using Crest poison.

  40. AJ says

    I just came to say that I really liked this article because you used the scientific method properly – you had a hypothesis (the polyethylene doesn’t break down easily) you tested it and reported results. Most importantly, in your discussion, you didn’t jump to the conclusion that the particles are harmful, but instead indicated reasons that they might be harmful, and you called for further studies. It’s so refreshing to read a “health warning” type article like yours and not have it full of fear mongering and hyperbole. I will definitely be checking my family’s toothpaste today, because as you say, you’re not sure it is causing problems, but it might, and there are alternative pastes. Are you sure it’s just Crest brand, though? Surely others use it too. What other brands have you examined? Thanks!

    • Trish Walraven says

      None of the other toothpaste brands I have looked at in the stores or in my home, or by checking with the National Department of Health website seem to have polyethylene listed as an ingredient. Thank you so much for appreciating how we approached this story to make it as accurate and factual as possible.

      • Bruce says

        Trish, you did a great job. I ended up here after our local ABC news had a story about the PE, wanted to find out when Crest started using it. Long ago had gigiva problems, now resolved for years. Used to use Crest. Of late, besides brushing chew Spry (green tea, not mint) flavor gum, with xylitol. Almost immediately resolved an issue I had with a gum area. Learned about it researching GERD. Chewing gum is good for that.

    • Trish Walraven says

      Here ya go, the form letter from Crest when someone complains about this issue:

      I’m very sorry about your experience. Our goal is to produce high quality products that consistently delight our consumers and we regret this wasn’t your experience. I certainly understand your frustration and you can be sure I’m sharing your comments with the rest of our team.
      We’ve checked the safety of our products which contain micro plastics. We can confirm they are safe for both humans and the environment. Micro plastics are small particles of less than 5mm consisting of polyethylene(PE) and other materials. PE is used virtually everywhere in our daily life, including bottles and food packaging. Micro plastics/micro beads are removed as part of routine waste water treatment processes. So they do not pose a risk to marine life. Although PE micro plastics make a miniscule contribution to the oceans, we do understand the environmental concerns. We will discontinue our use of PE micro plastic beads in our products as soon as alternatives are qualified.
      Also here is a list of our toothpastes that do not have any plastics in them.
      • Crest Cavity Protection Regular Paste
      • Crest Cavity Protection Cool Mint Gel
      • Crest Complete Extra White + Scope Outlast
      • Crest Baking Soda and Peroxide Whitening
      • Crest Complete Whitening + Scope Citrus Paste
      • Crest Tarter Protection Whitening
      • Crest Tarter Protection Regular Paste
      • Crest Tarter Protection Fresh Mint Gel
      • Crest Anti Cavity Paste
      • Crest Complete or Advantage Plus Scope & Extra Whitening
      • Crest Complete Whitening + Scope Liquid Gel
      • Crest Complete + Scope Liquid Gel
      • Kids Crest Paste; Hello Kitty, Disney Fairies, Sesame Street
      • Crest Kids Cavity Protection – Sparkle Fun Gel
      • Crest/Oral-B Stages

      • Rachel Ennis says

        @ Trish Walraven–
        Did the Crest rep really call it “Tarter” in that list?!!

        Also here is a list of our toothpastes that do not have any plastics in them.
        • Crest Cavity Protection Regular Paste
        • Crest Cavity Protection Cool Mint Gel
        • Crest Complete Extra White + Scope Outlast
        • Crest Baking Soda and Peroxide Whitening
        • Crest Complete Whitening + Scope Citrus Paste
        • Crest Tarter Protection Whitening
        • Crest Tarter Protection Regular Paste
        • Crest Tarter Protection Fresh Mint Gel
        • Crest Anti Cavity Paste
        • Crest Complete or Advantage Plus Scope & Extra Whitening
        • Crest Complete Whitening + Scope Liquid Gel
        • Crest Complete + Scope Liquid Gel
        • Kids Crest Paste; Hello Kitty, Disney Fairies, Sesame Street
        • Crest Kids Cavity Protection – Sparkle Fun Gel
        • Crest/Oral-B Stages

  41. Maggie says

    I stopped using Crest products about 8 years ago and have switched to using a toothpaste from the Health food store or Baking Soda. I make a paste out of baking soda then brush. It makes my teeth sparkling white.
    I am also trying to irradiate as many plastic products from coming into my home. It’s almost impossible…not quite, but, pretty close.
    I have started using baskets, cloth bags, glass with rubber lids and the like. If we work together we can get rid of this horrible stuff.

  42. CallMeSkeptical says

    Time for a reality check, folks. You aren’t listening to a researcher with an advanced degree, no even a dentist. This is the person who holds the water suction tool in place while the dentist is cleaning your teeth. Her observations may have merit, or this could be another “Chicken Little says the sky is falling” tale. I know it’s hard to believe, but not everything you read on the Internet is correct. Even though we’ve all been programmed to distrust the big bad Fortune 500 companies like P&G, common sense dictates that we wait for a little proof before we panic.

    • Trish Walraven says

      Are you a friend of the person who wrote the letter in the latest DentalBuzz article about Procter & Gamble? :)

      We have hundreds and hundreds of hygienists who have now reported seeing these specks lodged under patients’ gum lines, most of whom had no idea that they were made of non-dissolving plastic until this article came out.

      Purpose served. You can put your flaming torch down now.

    • RDH says

      “This is the person who holds the water suction tool in place while the dentist cleans your teeth”???

      Let’s first educate ourselves in the matter of dental hygienist vs. dental assistant, shall we? Certainly you’ll be glad to apologize to the National Board Certified, Dental Hygiene DEGREED individuals that are holding their own suction while scaling and polishing your teeth, and evaluating your periodontal health, which is linked to various systemic diseases, including heart disease.

      In other words, get a clue!

  43. Lacy says

    I too have been noticing this in my patients mouths. I thought it may have been flavor crystals from a recently chewed piece of gum, but this makes more sense.

  44. Chevonne S says

    Just checked our Colgate Max Clean with SmartFoam and the label clearly reads “polyethylene” (no glycol) and it has those same blue bits.

  45. Trish Helm says

    CallMeSkeptical, you obviously have no idea what a dental hygienist does. The person who holds the suction for the dentist is the dental assistant. Most dentists hardly ever clean teeth. That’s what hygienists are for. And we would be noticing if these particles are getting stuck under someone’s gums. I thought they were flavor crystals as well. Why do they need to find an alternative product before discontinuing use of these? It’s crazy for find out that the Crest company feels the need to have these unnecessary plastic particles in their toothpastes.

  46. Amy Langham, RDH says

    Thank you for this article. It was great. I had become aware of this problem and was not aware of what the cause was until another hygienist and myself began discussing it. Your article was a great resource for us and for our patients. Thank you.

  47. Larry Marek says

    After recently visiting my dentist and having them notice the plastic particles being washed from between my teeth and gums, I contacted Crest. P&G has a standard corporate “legal” response indicating no risk. However, if you read the box, it definitely says to consult a physician if swallowed. I followed up with P&G asking how much of the plastic would get into my system if I brushed twice a day and consumed any dislodged particles with continued eating and drinking. I have received no follow up. I’ll let you decide how much polyethylene you would like to consume. As a scientist involved in the oil and gas business for 35 years, I choose “none”.

  48. Anna says

    I have four of these lodged in my gum. They have been there for over a week. Any idea how to get them out without going to the dentist. I was just there.

    • Larry Marek says

      We use a water pick in addition to brushing. That may dislodge any plastic particles trapped between the teeth and gums.

  49. karen says

    Thankyou very much for creating this forum. And thankyou for this current information. I will pass it on to staff , friends, families, and patients. I also have to find a new sample of toothpaste to give my patients. I have always told my patients that I don’t push products and that I have always preferred the plainer the better rather than all these new chemicals in out toothpastes. Keep it simple. Thankyou for your research.

  50. Mark says

    I have a couple questions about this matter:

    1.) Aren’t those beads FDA-approved and commonly used in chewing gum and many other food-decor items? I Googled up that, and came up with this – http://www.google.com/patents/US5154927 – which seems to suggest it may have been used now in chewing gum for 25 years. Should I stop buying chewing gum too?

    2.) How do you know for certain that what you saw were those Crest beads in the people’s gum-line (i.e., did you scientifically analyze their structure and compare them to Crest) and not something altogether different; and, if they were beads, how do you know that they weren’t caused by chewing gum or some other food product, assuming that they’re similar?

    I like Crest, and recently started using the “Be Adventurous” chocolate-flavored toothpaste (which doesn’t have those beads in any case). You should try it. It leaves a nice chocolate-minty taste in my mouth. I’m more concerned about Colgate.

    I guess Canada has been talking about banning Colgate due to its potential effect on the environment, according to this Canadian news report that was on TV:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2igTexiW3bg

    Here’s another website about this triclosan-stuff in Colgate. The author suggests that the triclosan in Colgate is a known pesticide?
    http://blakeflannery.hubpages.com/hub/What-Ingredients-are-in-Your-Toothpaste-Triclosan-Controversy

    What can you tell me about that?

    • Trish says

      Actually the “Be Adventurous” Crest toothpaste has quite a bit of the plastic, only it’s brown. The specks in people’s gum lines won’t crush or dissolve; all the patients that present with the specks state that they are using a Crest product. I’ve seen this same report from hundreds of hygienists since this article came out, so this is why I’m pretty confident in stating that the specks we are seeing are indeed polyethylene plastic.

      As far as the triclosan controversy is concerned, my suggestion is for you to contact Colgate-Palmolive and possibly the FDA to get the facts. Hope that the link backs helps with your Google page ranking. :)

  51. Shannon says

    This week on Monday and Tuesday alone I had 5 pts with blue specs in their gums/sulcus, and they all used Crest ProHealth. I took an intr oral photo Tuesday of the blue particles I am finding.

  52. Nikki Epps says

    As a dental hygienist, I was more than a little concerned with this because not all people spit out or rinse their mouths after they finish brushing (Especially children). So I decided to use the link in the original post to ask why. I did get a response the next day stating that yes they use the plastic, it is in a lot of things like body scrubs, toothpaste, gum, etc. They also stated that there was no clinical research where the plastic caused any problems within the gums/oral cavity. As of now they will continue to use it, however, for future products they plan to not use it. My question now is why stop using it if it’s not a problem? Hmmm… Makes one think.

  53. Lisa rdh says

    I do not ever recommend crest and I cringe every time I give my patient their goody bag with a sample in it. I just found out of this plastic nonsense today and found this site. My reasons however are different. Crest claims to help with staining but it has stannous fluoride in it- which can cause staining!! I looked this up AFTER. I noticed I had heavy inter proximal staining while using pro health and the pro health rinse. My second reason is that I would get disgusting SLOUGHING of the skin inside.my mouth immediately after using crest pro health. This is from the sodium hexametophosphate. My patients would get the same things. I asked the crest representative about it and he acknowledged it is a.problem and crest.knows about it but it hasn’t gotten a majority of complaints. I do not and will not use or recommend crest- even though I have dozens of samples….

  54. Ed says

    I am no fan of plastics but… I worked in polyester research for 7+ years, so I did manage to pick a little knowledge up about it. HDPE would not actually be abrasive at all to tooth enamel, it is much too soft. The Titanium dioxide that is used to color virtually all toothpaste (and paint) white is much more abrasive. As far as your little scientist hat, well… alcohol is actually what is used to dissolve polyester during testing. Just as with the biodegradability (yes, it actually is biodegradable), it takes a while so virtually none is absorbed. I am not suggesting that people go out and chew PE dust! but there are a lot of other, much more harmful things in your average everyday toothpaste to worry about. Google this example: 2007 – Worldwide toothpaste incident. Di-ethylene Glycol is colorless and very poisonous and yes, a small percentage is allowed in there. As with anything, it’s the percentages that make the difference. I would be much more afraid of invisibly DEG tainted toothpaste ingredients from China than some brightly colored, very visible specs of HDPE… but that’s all up to the individual I suppose. Maybe we should just all go back to using baking soda?

    • Trish says

      Exactly! Since it’s not abrasive, the polyethylene serves no purpose in toothpaste except to make it LOOK interesting. Silica is the main grit used in the majority of toothpastes; there’s a whole science dedicated to creating different silica particle shapes and sizes that create luster and whiteness and all the claims of cleaning that toothpastes are supposed to do for teeth.

    • Bruce says

      Saying DEG is “very” poisonous is just wrong. It isn’t even classed a poison. I know that well, as when I worked at HP we used it in inkjet inks. Think what you will about Fortune 500s, at least in those days we at HP *were* concerned citizens. I’ve even been called a tree hugger. On the other hand, sodium fluoride *is* a poison, in fact used in the past as rat poison. Stannous? Not quite so much, but… and it will stain teeth. Nothing wrong with baking soda, right?

  55. Allison says

    Thank goodness I found this article! I recently switched toothpaste & bought Crest 3D white. About 2 weeks ago I noticed some dark blue areas under my gums. I was able to pick some of it out & was startled to find bright blue particles! I had no idea what it could have been but figured it was a one time thing…. Well I continuously kept finding blue specks under my gums & it was freaking me out making me think something was wrong with me! I’m glad I decided to Google it & try to get some information. I looked at my toothpaste & that’s exactly what it is! Whew!

  56. Kate says

    How come the ONLY brand you’re going after here is Crest? I find it hard to believe that other brands are not also loaded with this crap. Your article seems pretty biased against Crest. Did Colgate pay you to write this?

    • Trish Walraven says

      I would agree that this article is VERY biased against having plastic in toothpaste. If any other brands that are currently on US/Canada store shelves are shown to contain polyethylene they would quickly be added to the list. And no, I was not paid by anyone to write this story.

      When toothpaste contains a useless, controversial substance it’s probably best to remove it from the product instead of continuing to manufacture it, which is what Procter & Gamble are currently doing.

    • debbi in Texas says

      Also, from what I am reading in my own research of other toothpastes, is that you need to know what ingredients to avoid. Once you find your dream toothpaste, continue to check the label when you buy it as they can change the formulation at any time (i.e., add ingredients you don’t want) and they don’t tell you; buyer beware, as always

  57. steve says

    I have news for people that are commenting on the subject of plastic in toothpaste thinking that one brand is the only one that uses this ingredient. Most toothpaste companies use plastic so before you change brands do your research on ALL brands. This FDA approved ingredient is also in most chewing gum. Could it be from chewing gum?

  58. Brenda says

    I was a crest user then someone told me about a more natural, more effective toothpaste from a company that manufacture, more natural, better products that are safer for the environment. It also has an anti-bacterial essential oil in it that many have said helped or got rid of their gingivitis. My hygienist says my teeth need less cleaning now. I would never go back to Crest, I give it all back to my dentist.

  59. EOpenny says

    Many plastics have xenoestrogenic (false estrogen) outcomes. I can’t even believe this ( and yet I can), Xenoestrogens are just about everywhere now – causing issues with the endocrine system, infertility, endometriosis, early puberty – just to name a few. Hormone disrupters is a more commonly known description. I can’t imagine that these lodged in the gum tissue would have no affect on our health. Wow…this is crazy.

  60. abby says

    After reading this article, I was overwhelmed by the number of patients I found these blue pieces of plastic lodged in their gums! This awareness has been great; I’ve been able to educate my patients by taking intraoral pictures of the blue specks! Thanks for the article!! Abby, RDH

  61. L.T.RENNICH says

    I HAVE READ ALL THESE COMMENTS WITH INTEREST. THE FIRST PART OF DEC.2013 I BECAME AWARE OF A CANKER SORE IN MY MOUTH (WHICH IS VERY VERY RARE FOR ME AND CLEARS AWAY RAPIDLY IF I DO HAVE ONE) HOWEVER, WITHIN A FEW DAYS THEY SPREAD OVER THE UPPER AND LOWER AREAS OF MY GUMS. NEEDLESS TO SAY IT WAS VERY UNCOMFORTABLE TO EAT OR DRINK.
    THIS CONDITION LASTED FOR SEVERAL WEEKS. I CHANGED THE TOOTH PASTE I WAS USING WHICH WAS CREST PRO HEALTH, THE SMALL SIZE TUBE, SUBSEQUENTLY I DISCARDED IT. I THINK WHEN I STARTED USING SALINE MOUTH WASHES AND STARTED USING A NONE WHITENING PRODUCT THE CANKERS GRADUALLY DISAPPEARED AFTER SEVERAL WEEKS (THE LATER PART OF MARCH).
    BOTH OF THE TUBES OF CREST TOOTHPASTE CONTAINED THE TINY BLUE SPECKS SHOWN IN THIS ARTICLE.

    I AM A SENIOR PERSON AND FIND IT RATHER DAUNTING TO REALIZE THAT A LOT OF THE PRODUCTS WE FIND ON THE SHELVES OF STORES CAN CAUSE SO MANY HEALTH ISSUES. WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO PLAIN OLD BAKING SODA TO BRUSH TEETH WIT???

    • debbi in Texas says

      Plain old baking soda can be found on the food cooking aisle; probably we should all buy it and use it to brush with; much safer

  62. CCanny says

    The terrible part is that there is zero need — beyond profit and market share — to put that stuff in there. It does nothing and is dangerous. Thank you for this article. I’ve been really trying to take better care of my teeth for my overall health and I’m grateful for your vigilance and knowledge that you’ve shared here. (I don’t use Crest, but I’m going to examine my toothpaste closely now because who knows who else is playing with plastic.)

  63. debbi in Texas says

    In Researching other Crest toothpastes, a complaint illicited a reply from the makers and here is a phone number to complain to:
    “This is quite unusual and I’m sharing your report with our Health & Safety division. We’d like to gather additional information so please call us at 1-866-587-2338. Thanks!”

  64. Elizabeth Spence says

    I emailed Crest last night. This is their reply.

    Thanks for contacting Crest, Elizabeth.

    Nothing matters more to us than the well-being of our consumers around the world who use our toothpastes. We want to assure you that our products are safe. Our products and their ingredients undergo rigorous safety evaluations before going to market. And once in market, we continually monitor their safety.

    The colored polyethylene (PE) specks used in our oral care products are safe, FDA approved food additives. They are used in chewing gums and are commonly used in toothpastes.

    P&G and other toothpaste manufacturers use limited amounts of small colored polyethylene specs in some toothpastes. Polyethylene beads are commonly used as scrub beads (e.g. in exfoliating products) but are also sometimes used to give color, like in chewing gum and toothpaste.

    There is no evidence from clinical studies or from on-going monitoring to indicate that these particles persist underneath the gumline or cause harm. We’ve already begun the process of identifying alternatives for use in our toothpaste and the PE specks will be replaced as soon as alternatives are qualified. In addition, we have decided not to introduce microplastic beads into any new product category.

    Please be assure, I am happy to pass all of your comments to the appropriate members of my team.

    Thanks again.

    Mary

    Crest Team

    • Trish Walraven says

      Thanks for posting the response you received. This is the exact reply most people receive when they air their concerns about the presence of plastic in toothpaste. They aren’t introducing plastic into any new product category, but since toothpaste isn’t a NEW product category P & G has quite a bit of latitude.

      So what do YOU think? Consumers probably don’t care that plastic is in their toothpaste because it looks prettier that way? Or should it be removed as soon as possible, making the toothpaste less colorful, but no less effective? “As soon as alternatives are qualified” – when will that be? And why does plastic decoration need replacement with anything?

  65. Malcolm says

    I’ve been using the Crest pro-health for 8 months now. Since I started using it I’ve gotten 3 infections in my top gums. So bad I’ve had to drain pus out of my gums. I even had to do it last night. Do you think the plastic in my toothpaste is cause it?

  66. Linda says

    I have used AIM for about 40 years. Is it okay? It is a blue gel and has no specks. I also use a water pick daily. My mouth gets raw and hurts if I use Colgate, which I used my entire childhood. Did the ingredients change over the years, or just my body?

    Thank you for all this info. My dentist gives Crest, but I give it to my grandkids. I will stop that practice.

    • Trish Walraven says

      Did you read the box? If you just looked on the tube, Crest does not list their inactive ingredients, including polyethylene (plastic). Plain Crest also does not contain polyethylene. The best way to judge whether or not there is plastic in your toothpaste is to look at it. If there are colored specks and it is a Crest brand, then most likely it’s plastic.

  67. AlphaCentauri says

    Don’t be too quick to assume that baking soda (sodium bicarbonate, the ingredient in many natural toothpastes) is 100% safe. It has a LOT of sodium in it. It should not be used by people with high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, or swollen legs. If I’m going to put a lot of sodium in my mouth, I’d rather it be for something I enjoy, like seasoning on my food.

    I believe that the major label toothpastes tend to use calcium carbonate instead of sodium bicarbonate. It has the same effect on the low molecular weight carboxylic acids that cause bad breath, but without all the sodium.

    • Javier says

      Colgate Luminous White also uses this material, at least in many Latin american countries and probably in the US too…

      • Trish says

        I don’t believe that Colgate Luminous White is sold in the US. Additionally, Colgate Palmolive has stated that as of January 2014 there are no plastic specks in any of their toothpastes.

  68. Penny says

    Ingredients of CVS Brilliant White (you have to go to their website, it’s not published on the tube):”Active Ingredients: Sodium Fluoride (0.243%). Inactive Ingredients: Water, Sorbitol, Hydrated Silica, Disodium Pyrophosphate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Flavor, Cellulose Gum, Xanthan Gum, Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide, Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Blue 1 Lake, Polyethylene”. Same thing, Polyethylene. If you can get the word out, please.

    • Trish Walraven says

      Good find! Thank you – looks like we need to be careful of private label brands such as CVS that are similar to the Crest brands. Brilliant White must be their version of the 3D White. Consider the word out.

  69. Tiffany says

    Thank you for this article. I have seen so many patients with this and have now started telling them it is plastic and to not use this toothpaste anymore. I also wrote Crest to complain!
    Tiffany Braswell, RDH, BS

  70. Janice says

    There is NO way these plastic pieces get stuck in the gums. Gingival Crevicular Fluid Flushes:
    – Healthy sulcus – 33x per minute, or once every 2 minutes
    • Gingivitis site – 224 times per hour, or almost 4x per minute
    • Moderate periodontal pocket – 50 times per hour, or almost 1x every minute.
    Reference (attached): J. Max Goodson. Gingival crevicular fluid flow. Periodontology 2000, Vol. 31, 2003, 43–54.
    I went to the article to double check my facts, and get this, I quote Max:
    “The first important characteristic associated with GCF flow is its flushing action. Substances put into the periodontal pocket are rapidly washed out. Even before the importance of GCF was recognized, clearance of carbon particles (33) and of amalgam particles (19) from the gingival sulcus had been reported. As GCF became more intensively studied, instilled
    charcoal particles and even bacteria (2) were found to be rapidly removed from the periodontal pocket. The introduction of controlled release antibacterial therapy directed to the periodontal environment was conceived as compensating for the rapid removal of substances from the gingival sulcus (15).”

    • Trish Walraven says

      Thank you, Janice for this study. Even if crevicular fluid is able to flush out the plastic, I still stand by my initial statement that the presence of polyethylene in toothpaste is completely worthless and unnecessary.

  71. Amber, Future RDH says

    I am currently studying dental hygiene and encountered these blue dots subgingivally in a couple of my patients this past semester. I had no idea what they were from, but this makes perfect sense! I am interested to hear the follow up research on the effects of these polyethylene dots in the sulcus.

  72. says

    That is alarming that they would put plastic in their toothpaste. It serves no function in making the teeth cleaner and may actually cause reactions in people who may be potentially sensitive to polyethylene. In fact, the plastic may make the toothpaste far too abrasive for most brushers, resulting in potential damage to the teeth and gums. I’d recommend Colgate over Crest, but even the former is still too abrasive for most. I personally recommend Viadent for over the counter tooth pastes.

  73. ChiefH says

    A couple of comments: How did the author know it was HDPE as opposed to LDPE? There are two kinds of polyethylene.
    Second the attempt to dissolve the PE in acetone or other solvent was a waste as the containers shown are HDPE/LDPE bottles containing the solvent.
    Reviewing the comments there seems to be two schools of thought n the flushing or non-flushing of the gums. I feel the answer lies between the two, since the author and others have found the blue PE bits in between the gums and teeth.
    This shows that the inactive ingredients should be listed as that is just as important as the active ingredients.

    Otherwise it is a good article.

    • buzzadmin says

      If you click on some of the toothpaste names in the article and scroll down the National Library of Medicine monograph specifically mentions high density polyethylene as an ingredient. See Crest 3D White Luxe Lustrous Shine, for example.

  74. Steve Sims says

    If they made the specks a pretty pink, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Just sayin’. LOL
    Then, of course, is the idea that most toothpaste is not good for your teeth, due to the abrasive content. Check out Dr Thomas C Abrahamsen, Ohio, on the internet. Interesting, and compelling.
    I recommend brushing with toothpaste only once per week (to reduce staining, between dental visits), for my patients with either sensitivity or ‘abfractions’. Otherwise, it’s too hard a sell… “but I like the clean feeling I get, using toothpaste!” Etc.

  75. Claudia says

    Wow! I just came across this article! 2 days I go I spotted a dot exactly like the picture shown! I was for sure it had something to do with the toothpaste because I had recently changed to crest! Does anyone know if this speks are dangerous? Or are they going to be there forever now?

  76. says

    This product put me in the hospital after 5 uses, on a Benadryl/Steroid IV. Eight days later, I’m still miserable with mouth sores & blisters, swollen lips. Do NOT recommend it.

  77. Sara Bonnette says

    I also see polyethylene listed in Colgate Total Zx Pro-Shield Plus Sensitivity toothpaste. Prior to seeing your article, I called Colgate several times to ask why there was plastic in my toothpaste. Every time they said they would have to get back with me on the answer and finally said it was for “aesthetics”. They also gave me a bunch of coupons I think to get me to shut up! they also said they do not make the product anymore. What a disgrace to put plastic in a toothpaste!!

    • Trish Walraven says

      It does appear that polyethylene was in some Colgate products prior to 2014, but I am grateful that the decision was made to discontinue its use.

  78. Jerimiah says

    Funny because polyethelene is most commonly used to give coloring to products. Better stop chewing most types of gum, because its found in that as well!

    People like you irritate me

  79. pamela says

    Why in the world is crest 3D toothpaste still on the market. My daughter just returned from the dentist and he removed several pieces of plastic from her gums. This plastic came from her toothpaste.

  80. Bill says

    I also after a deep cleaning was shown the blue “specs” embed ed under my gums. Asked if I used Crest, answer was yes
    Bought new TP and threw all the rest away. Unbelievable!!

  81. Hywel says

    Interesting to read another perspective – I´m looking ad the problem of micro-plastic particles to marine life.

    Anyway, just to balance the blame a little, polyethylene particles are also added to some of the Colgate ranges of toothpaste, including Colgate Smiles – for kids. Another one is Colgate Duraphat range.

    The concerns from marine pollution studies is that plastic isn´t entirely inert. At this scale, the particles do quite a good job of binding organic pollutants (pesticides, PCBs, etc) so that they become more concentrated on the particle surfaces than in the surrounding water, then they´re taken up particularly by those animals at the base of the food chain.

  82. Linda Jones says

    I hope the more important issue is recognized by all as to WHERE this plastic goes AFTER we rinse it down the drain!!! Non biodegradable plastic microscopic beads are going directly to our waterways into lakes, rivers, and ultimately our oceans. Our natural ecosystems are being endangered because our toothpaste needs to look PRETTY? ??!!!
    Really……???

  83. says

    I’ve been hearing about this for a while along with the big toothpaste manufacturers (that are not made here in the US by the way!) also put antibiotics into the formulas which is what helps fight bacteria etc.

    I switched a year to a US private manufacturer that is regulated by the FDA that uses all natural ingredients. I use their fluoride version (they have one without too) and my dentist is really impressed with how clean my teeth are and how healthy my gums are.

    We do have alternatives – we just need to be willing to think outside of what the commercials and other experts are telling us.

  84. Leigh Ann says

    Thank you for sharing this article. As a hygienist, I have seen this over and over. It’s been trapped in the sulcus as well as facial gingiva. Anything that is trapped or stuck in the tissues is going to be an irritant. I hate having to tell patients to find another brand of toothpaste. I’m really disappointed in Crest.

  85. anita brown says

    Whaaaaattt! Ok everyone return all crest or proctor and gamble products for a refund based on these microbeads . Unsatisfied with the concerns for humans ingestion safety and results of ingestion over the years. And for the concern of its effects on the enviromental impact. As for me I will not use crest again

    • Cori says

      While a waterpick may remove some of the microbeads it can also force them deeper into the sulcus. I find them deep in my patients tissue daily. Best to avoid use.
      Cori RDH

  86. says

    It is amazing to me that someone, somewhere in the company didn’t stop and say “People are going to be creeped out if they find out that their tooth paste has plastic in it. Even if it is harmless, you just don’t expect that what you put in your mouth several times a day is plastic and inedible.” Are these people aliens? Don’t they live on this planet too?

    • Alika says

      It would appear Procter & Gamble has a ways to go in developing (and practicing) its sustainability initiatives.

  87. Jason says

    “So it has been established here that polyethylene will not dissolve in the mouth, or even in household products. It is an inert substance, which means that it doesn’t change at all.”

    If it is inert, it is completely safe to digest. If it does not dissolve in the mouth or in strong solvents, then it does not get digested and passes through you no different than if you ate sand.

    I really don’t care for plastic bits in toothpaste, but there are a lot of people that don’t understand anything about how the world works getting all sensationalist about nothing.

  88. Lex Bee says

    This is crazy, I was reading about how they use these plastic little balls in facial scrubs, too. Since the majority of them are going down the drain and into the water, they’re having a negative effect on marine life, which makes its way back up to humans that eat fish and things of that sort. This stuff is terrible. o-o

  89. Sarat says

    This is the response i got from Crest when i told them i don’t want plastic in my tooth paste and asked them to suggest a any other crest toothpaste which doesn’t have PE

    “Thank you for contacting Crest, Sarat.

    Nothing matters more to us than the well-being of our consumers around the world who use our toothpastes. We want to assure you that our products are safe.

    Our products and their ingredients undergo rigorous safety evaluations before going to market. And once in market, we continually monitor their safety. The colored polyethylene (PE) specks used in our oral care products are safe, FDA approved food additives. They are used in chewing gums and are commonly used in toothpastes.

    P&G and other toothpaste manufacturers use limited amounts of small colored polyethylene specs in some toothpastes. Polyethylene beads are commonly used as scrub beads (e.g. in exfoliating products) but are also sometimes used to give color, like in chewing gum and toothpaste. There is no evidence from clinical studies or from on-going monitoring to indicate that these particles persist underneath the gumline or cause harm.

    We’ve already begun the process of identifying alternatives for use in our toothpaste and the PE specks will be replaced as soon as alternatives are qualified. In addition, we have decided not to introduce microplastic beads into any new product category.

    Some of the toothpastes that contain the PE specks, that you should avoid are:

    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

    Thank you for taking the time to write.”

    Phyllis
    Crest team

  90. says

    Thank you, Trish Walraven, for posting this well written article. My patients have complained about Crest burning their mouths, especially the children. Like another said, “Add this to the list of things I didn’t learn in dental school.”

    I think I have seen these blue specs in patients’ mouths, also. I thought it was strange. Now I know!

    Additionally, No matter how careful we are, we still swallow some of that toothpaste as we brush. I always get an upset stomach after using conventional toothpaste (the Fluoride), so have switched to an herbal product, which I *really* like. In research it gives the freshest breath for the longest time, doesn’t make my teeth sensitive, tastes beyond awesome, helps fight bad pathogens and a little goes a long way. Best when used in conjunction with the same companies mouthwash. I digress…

    As I was saying, we always swallow some toothpaste–and the thought of eating tiny plastic bits is disturbing, to say the least. I will be steering my patients and coaching clients away from these products. Thanks for the list, too.

    Lynelle
    BrushForLife.com

    • A. Harris says

      What is the product you use, is it Toms of Maine? My aunt used to bring me a wide variety of their products (she lived in New Jersey for most of her life, and I in Canada). Would be interesting to know alternatives to chemical company products as they all seem to hurt my exposed dentin, even products containing arginine, so I’ve resorted to sticking more with natural teeth helpers like cheeses, sugar-free yogurt, cucumbers, carrots, etc. and munch on natural cleaners like celery, garlic, strawberries. And have to vigorously rinse with water after each meal, snack, or drink to try to remove as much remaining sugar as possible. I’ve had to greatly alter my diet (which is incredibly difficult and frustrating since smoking altered my taste-buds so that only potent foods with high sugar, acidity, salt, or spice are all I can really taste anymore). Oh well, made my bed.

      So, I would like to hear of some natural toothpastes, as I hate the taste of celery, sesame seed oil, I’ve noticed I’ve been sweating out garlic lol, and I worry about the sugars in strawberries possibly making things worse in the long run. Cheers

      • Bruce says

        One word, xylitol. Do your research, try Spry gum–its base is even natural. Some supposedly are petroleum based, can you believe it? Sure you can. :-) Anyway, hope that helps. No, I don’t work for Spry.

  91. Matt says

    I feel my recent switch to a crest toothpaste (within a year) caused my gums to develop inflamed sulcus which in turn led to a looser fit, which led to a very rapid/agressive gingivitis which turned ulcerative and deep within 72 hours. Oil pulling with a very specific brand liquid at room temp coconut oil seems to be slightly reversing the damage along with an occasional hydrogen peroxide rinse but at the same time I feel all is lost for a small section , it will never fully heal and I do believe the connective tissue is a lost cause for a couple teeth outside invasive procedures (both to my mouth and wallet). Can I file class action suit against them? I don’t go to a dentist often (keep pretty good maintaince on my teeth and have a.high calcium diet) my 2nd most recent visit my dentist told me I have impeccable oral health for going 6+ years without seeing a dentist, and in less than two years without long term diet or lifestyle changing

  92. brad laven says

    Thank you so much for the research and work you’ve done to bring this to the public’s attention. I am mortified by so many aspects of corporate America I’m beginning to think the entire structure of the corporation needs to be dismantled and though that seems like an extreme reaction, I am not alone. What various multinationals & global conglomerates not unlike Proctor & Gamble are allowed to get away with and violations like the head of the lobbying group representing companies like Monsanto, becoming the head of the Food & Drug Administration…For further information, find out more about Howard Zinn’s, A People’s History

  93. Ashley (Admin Assistant) says

    I work for a dentist and have confirmed my fears with a few hygienists, who say they scrape out blue specks EVERY DAY. I did a little experiment with this toothpaste: rubbed it between my fingers—>blue bits did not dissolve; agitated the paste with some water—>blue bits did not dissolve; swirled the agitated paste in water—>blue bits STILL did not dissolve; 3 hours later in water—>blue bits HAVE NOT DISSOLVED.
    It is sad that the FDA approved of this, but this certainly wouldn’t be their first offense…

  94. laura says

    Extremely happy to see I’m not the only one who this has happened to…one day I noticed a blue tint behind the gums above my upper front teeth. I scraped them out my self with a floss pick, my first thought was that it looked liked the flakes in toothpaste, but I thought that was ridiculous! I’ve always used crest but I will definitely be changing my toothpaste

  95. Rachel Martin says

    I just had a 15-minute call with Holly, a Crest costumer-service rep. (She was very patient and professional as she got multiple earfuls about this.) She confirmed all the basic bits: the “PE (polyethylene) specks” are just add for color; they do not break down in water treatment systems; and they are added to their toothpastes, gums, and facial products.

    She was aware that states were banning these additions, and confirmed that they are not immediately removing them – that they will replace them once they identify alternatives.

    She tried to reassure me that they’re “safe,” because they’re approved by the FDA. (My reply being that that doesn’t necessarily comfort me: I know the FDA doesn’t always have my best interests in mind, and companies need to independently take steps to reassure their consumers.)

    She did not respond when I queried whether the company had done research into whether they were environmentally safe, given that they don’t break down. She just said she would pass on my comments to the quality assurance team and health and safety team.

    I closed by telling her that it’s things like this that make customers believe companies need to be closely watched and regulated – because they do awfully irresponsible stuff like this, just because they can.

  96. Miguel A. Alarcon says

    Well I might just say screw the Pro-Health series and screw toothpaste with Polerhylyene I use Crest Cavity Protection or Anti-Cavity that is safe and has no PE and I recommend the good old fashion regular Crest toothpaste the original than those other ones that came out, well no fear on the original Crest but stay away from the Pro-Health series all you need is the Cavity – Protection original Crest toothpaste and you are OK.

  97. A. Harris says

    I read this interesting article about two weeks ago. I was amused to find out my Crest Pro-Health product contains bits of plastic, but not entirely surprised. I was only using this toothpaste occasionally, seeing as I’ve been warned to keep away from anything with high acidity (like unripe fruit, lemon/lime, etc) and also anything with baking soda (seeing as I’ve been a neurotic brusher… I’d replaced my nicotine addiction with a tooth brushing addiction, that in turn wore away a large portion of my enamel from the abrasive soda, as well as enjoying a large amount of fruit in my diet, ripe or unripe didn’t matter)

    Anyway, I hate wasting anything I’ve paid for, so was unwilling to just toss the Crest products in my house into the garbage.

    I’d like to share some interesting discoveries with everyone, to show you how you can effectively repurpose Crest products, without having them go in your body anymore.

    I’ve spent a couple weeks experimenting, and here’s what I’ve discovered:

    Cleaning the toilet: My Crest Pro-Health works exceedingly well at cleaning the nasty bits around the toilet seat, as well as within the bowl. The abrasive effect of the toothpaste (using an old toothbrush I used just for cleaning purposes), works well at cleaning away stains, also, the mint leaves a very pleasant aroma around the toilet.

    Cleaning the bathtub: While it would be difficult to cover the entire bathtub (and I’d worry about using abrasive products on plastic) I have hard water in my place. This constantly leaves a calcium film on just about anything that goes near my water. This includes the stainless steel near the drain of the bathtub. Using Crest Pro-Health and my cleaning toothbrush, the product quickly wiped away the calcium film (as well as cleaning some old slightly brownish ring that was between the plastic of the tub and the stainless drain). I inspected the stainless steel afterwards and noticed no signs of scratching to the metal, and again it left a pleasant aroma of mint in my bathtub.

    Cleaning tile grout: I was actually shocked by this one. I’ve used grout cleaners of the chemical variety, grout cleaners of the environmentally friendly sort, industrial strength stain removers for concrete, bleach, and Mr. Clean on my grout in the past (using mops, sponges, and rags with all those cleaners) The results have all been moderate, leaving my tile off-white at the best, and often having some parts more brown than others. Some of those products needed double cleaning, first to clean the grout, then to get rid of the potent chemical smells.

    The results of using Crest Pro-Health on my floor tiles in the bathroom were unbelievable (this is the largest part of what prompted me to find this article again and make this post). I’d like others to try this. In the 8 years I’ve owned my place, slightly stained grout was something I’d grown accustomed to, and accepted as impossible to fix completely. Till now.

    Here are the steps for cleaning grout that I took, and then confirmed on another section of the bathroom floor.

    1. Apply two pea sized beads of toothpaste at the intersecting corners of the grout (where four tiles meet). And FYI, my floor tiles are 12″ squared, with the grout a width of exactly 1/4″ between the tiles.

    2. Using my cleaning toothbrush, I ran it under the tap for a moment to moisten it, then began brushing the top pea-sized bead of toothpaste towards the middle of the tile grout, then did the same with the bottom bead of toothpaste. I spent only 30 seconds brushing the toothpaste till it covered the strip of grout between two tiles evenly. I then wiped it away with a dry rag. (The results were very noticeable for such a short amount of brushing).

    3. After clearing away the first bit of toothpaste, I put another single pea-sized bead into the middle of the grout. I brushed this for less than a minute till it covered the whole strip of grout between two tiles, I was only using a toothbrush, and only the toothpaste for this.

    4. I wiped the grout dry with a rag, and found that the grout, for the first time in 8 years, looks exactly as it did when this place was first built and I walked through the doors.

    So, I’ll keep experimenting on other cleaning effects of these Crest products that we shouldn’t be putting in our bodies. While it would be a shame to toss a hardly used tube in the garbage. Next up I’ll try the kitchen, and the stains on my glass stove top that I’ve never been able to clean completely.

    Please, post any uses you’ve found for Crest products. I still have a half-used tube of another Crest toothpaste I’ll be looking for uses for as well. But as for my Crest Pro-Health, It’s now gone in with my cleaning supplies as my new super-powered grout cleaner :)

  98. Sheryl Brown says

    What is the best for cleaning teeth ? I’ve used Crest for years & & have no clue what is best. Just use natural baking soda?

  99. Amy says

    This would make a great petition. Check out a site like change.org. Try targeting a single brand, and ask them to shape up! Collect signatures, and raise awareness at the same time. Hope you’ll consider it. Thanks for the great write up!

  100. Christine Tressel says

    Hello,

    I’m a news producer looking for dental hygeienists or dentists from the Chicago area who are noticing these microbeads getting stuck in patient’s gums.
    Thanks,
    Christine

  101. Ramona says

    This is the only conclusive article that I could find on this. I have the same issue. Could you, please, tell me a way to get that particle out of my gum? Thank you.

    • Trish says

      If you can’t dislodge it with a toothpick, floss, or by using water irrigation (i.e. WaterPik) you may consider having it removed at your dental office.

  102. Tony says

    Thank you for the informative article.

    Could you answer the following:

    1. What brand toothpaste is in the second and third photos (Crest Prohealth for me, or some other brand)?

    2. Do you know which Crest brand has the most plastic in it (presumably by visual inspection)?

    Thanks again!

    • buzzadmin says

      The second and third photos are indeed Crest Pro Health For Me. As for which brand has the MOST plastic in it, you’d probably have to ask Procter & Gamble.

  103. June K Riley says

    Thank you so much for explaining the problems I’ve been having with my teeth. I couldn’t explain or figure out where the little splinters in my teeth were coming from. This web site says it perfectly.

  104. Janice says

    Hello
    I have the same issuen now. Yesterday i went to a dentist’s office to figure it out. My dentist was trying to rid of them out of my gums. But he told me he can’t sure whether he rid of them perfectly or not. I am so worried about it every moment, especially when i brush my teeth. Some of my friends also used it before but till now they can’t find any tiny things inside their gums. In this case, I wonder that they don’t have any problem of their gums.

    • Frank says

      that is an incredible list of toothpastes that P/G makes when just the plain works just fine. The whitening ones I have always been afraid of and as it turns out the fancy blue ones should be avoided. I say that if you are wanting your teeth whitened you should have your dentist do it. Beware of anything in a box,can,bottle,or tube–you do not know what they have done to the contents…..

  105. erick dragon says

    Trish Walraven,
    I have a question and it is serious since I have given up on dentists for a while since I had some dental work done and it caused a lot of pain. however I have taken good care of my teeth minus the checkups. that said. I wonder what those plastic beads will do to someone with a bridge and the start of gingivitis. Im sure by now it is worse but I have noticed that when I rinse blue dots come out. and my guns sometimes hurt. what can I do other than have all my teeth pulled and implants put in? I would like to keep my teeth and have my gums back to the health before. is that possible? if so would you advise? thanks for that information. I have used crest all my life and I’m 39 years old. thank you so much. if so email me with ideas thanks

  106. Marilyn Kaswin says

    The Crest Pro Health Toothpaste caused my gums and the mucous membranes on the inside of my cheeks to exfoliate and peel off. When I contacted Crest they never responded, and I ended up throwing away the entire tube because I knew it was not normal. It happened on two separate occasions. If you Google Crest Pro Health you will see that other people have had the same thing happen! I am a pharmacist and cannot figure out what would cause that to occur!

  107. MRaftery says

    If this gets stuck in your gums, what about your insides–throat, stomach, intestines etc?
    I had one of these toothpastes and it was so thick I could only use a third of the tube before I couldn’t get anymore out. imagine what that must be like for your digestive tract.

    I hope ALL toothpaste makers will get this garbage out of toothpaste. Meanwhile I’ll be buying mine at a natural products store.

    • Joe Hardy says

      I contacted P&G. Since they have mentioned an “enjoyable brushing experience” in their responses, I wrote and asked P&G to include Cocaine Hydrochloride in toothpaste formulations. I know that would give ME an “enjoyable brushing experience.”

    • says

      MRaftery,

      I’m thinking the same thing about the digestive tract. I suffer from IBS and diverticulosis and I have to be extremely diligent to avoid ingesting nuts, corn, or even the smallest seeds, pretty much anything that may not be fully digestible. If I don’t, I will, of course, develop an excruciating onset of full-blown diverticulitis. Despite my vigilance however, I still have attacks two to three times a year on average with some leading to an ER visit which requires powerful pain medications such as dilaudid of which I hate the side effects. In addition I have had two colonoscopies in the past three years….not fun. I could never figure out why I was still having the attacks even though I’ve been so careful until now.

      Plastic may not technically be poisonous to the human body but for me and others like me it may just as well be! I’m livid over this!!

  108. Debra says

    This article is enlightening. Thank you! I just read a list of ingredients in my Lancôme Exfoliant Fraichelle Invigorating Body Scrub. The second ingredient, right after Water, is polyethylene. I’ve never used it (came as a free gift) and, now, I won’t!!

  109. MIke says

    I’m a retired dentist and want to let all you plastic particle worriers in on a little secret. There is not enough abrasive action in toothpaste to remove the plaque. It’s the abrasive action of the bristles of the brush that get teeth clean. The toothpaste is there just to give you a fresh taste in your mouth and isn’t really needed. If you’re concerned about plastic in Crest toothpaste, buy another brand and don’t get so wigged out about it. Better yet, save yourself some money and don’t use your brush with toothpaste.

  110. Toni says

    Would you happen to know if these substance could cause extreme tooth sensitivity? Around the time I had started to use Crest Pro-Health several years ago, I developed a horrible sensitivity to sweets. I wanted to blame it on the tooth paste, but thought that made no sense. Now it just might…

  111. Clint Davis says

    I just looked at the back of my tube of Colgate Total Pro-Shield Plus Sensitivity and listed under Inactive Ingredients is also “polyethylene”. This isn’t just Crest.

    • Trish says

      You are correct about this version of Colgate having polyethylene; however, your tube likely was made prior to 2014, since Colgate says it discontinued the use of plastic last year. Be glad you caught it! Unlike Crest, Colgate does indeed list their inactive ingredients on the tube.

  112. Jen says

    Thank you for sharing!!! Brand new bottle of Pro-Health to the trash! Saddened once again by FDA and then companies who think it is okay to pull the wool over consumers eyes!

  113. Amy Lee says

    I found this video on CNN, and it has really solved a HUGE mystery for my family!!! My husband has a blue dot near the gums of his front teeth. We both were concerned that it may be a cancerous mole and we discussed having it biopsied. Perhaps we still will, just in case, but it fits your description of blue dots near the gumline. My husband is a dentist, so he brushes his teeth maybe 4-5 times a day, perhaps he has been a little rough, but we use crest! Thank you SO much for sharing this!!!

  114. JCD says

    Interesting. I use Crest; always have. None if the problems cited. No mouth sores, no gum problems. I don’t support plastic or microbeads in make-up and bath products mostly because of the environmental impact.

  115. Wini says

    I find this very interesting as I have noticed this several times over the last year and a half. At the same time, I have developed a blood/metallic taste in my mouth and have been told and treated for gingivitis. I have also been told by a dental school that they would like to do a study on me. They did a salivary test and the acidity level came back at 3.9 which they said should be at least 5.5 – 7. Could you please tell me if there is any correlation here?

    Thank you!

  116. says

    After being on hold for almost 20 minutes this afternoon, Wednesday 17th, 2PM, I finally got Crest’s 1-800 Consumer call center and Stacy, a nice young lady, with a call center in Wisconsin. After expressing my great displeasure with Crest and P&G for decorating their toothpaste with tiny beads of indestructible plastic because of the clear threat that could have upon gum health, she told me that the beads were no longer going to be used in Crest toothpaste(s) … starting March 2015, some nine months from now.

    Since the phone conversations are recorded I added that I am a 74 year old retired broadcast journalist, long time Crest user. I explained that I faithfully use my overpriced Sonicare toothbrush to help insure good gum health by vibrating and brushing out plaque as well as foreign matter at and inside the gum line . . . like decorative colored plastic spheres that are like little potential land mines when they become lodged in the gingiva below the gum line. I first learned of this hearing part of a news report that mentioned, ” … plastic in toothpaste.” I immediately assumed it was another shipment of toxic toothpaste from China. When I initiated a search Trish’s Dental Buzz was the first hit, and made it clear that this was All American Crest, and in the types I have used for years.

    No more Crest and a real close scrutiny of any other P&G products I may use. I thank you for this most professional posting! Larry

  117. peteriser says

    Good job! You win, it’s all over that Crest has announced they will remove polyethylene from the ingredients. Well done!

  118. b says

    I think what’s worse than crest putting this stuff out there on the market is that on my son’s toothpaste, beside the “sparkle fun” says ADA approved. That means nothing to me anymore. Thanks for sharing this article. I’ll be returning some toothpaste today.

  119. Leanna says

    Thank you, I noticed this too a few times in my own mouth and tried flossing it out…alas it would not. I thought that well it must dissolve, now I know that it does not. I will no longer be using any of these toothpastes. I hope they do take it out and not just stop coloring it so it cannot be seen.

  120. Olivia says

    I have read this and I am very concerned. My kids (12 and 17) use Crest pro health. Do they find these plastic pieces in the gums of everyone who uses this toothpaste???

  121. R says

    Thank you for spreading the word. You bring respect to your profession.The primary responsibility of dentist, hygienist, doctors etc is to their patients and not to big pharmas and marketers, which is not a norm anymore.

  122. says

    After 33 years in the plastics industry, I know that this article is correct in the analysis of the Polypropylene and Poly-ethylene. There is good reason for the characteristics in these two products. First, the article states that polypropylene is used for making trash cans. True, and also POTABLE DRINKING WATER tanks. The molecular structure is such that it is an inert product and will not promote the growth of bacteria in your trash can or drinking water. You would not want any plastic in your mouth that did dissolve in your system, that would indicate instability in the plastic and therefore would become toxic in any number of ways. These products will not dissolve and flow right through your digestive track unchanged and if you have been using them for years, then count yourselves blessed that the abrasive they chose was not going to be changed from a totally inert product to something that made a chemical change inside your body. By the way, polypropylene is also the tank for your gas in your car. You can literally eat the tank but don’t drink the gas, like the Kool-Aid you already drank from this “Expose'”

    • Trish says

      The Kool-Aid comment is funny, and as a bit of a skeptic myself, surprising. Here’s a question, then: given the choice between a toothpaste that has specks of polyethylene that are completely useless and a toothpaste that does not contain them, which would you choose, Dan?

  123. j f stager says

    Thank you Trish Walraven and all the rest who have made it possible to know that mfrs are inserting completely useless and potentially problematic ingredients into toothpaste. May God bless you for your brave approach to communicating important facts to those of us who would never know any other way. I’ll bet you are a highly conscientious parent so your family and your patients benefit from your caring life style.

  124. Tanya Armstrong says

    In the past 3-4 years, I’ve had to undergo very expensive and painful periodontal surgery to save my teeth in three quadrants of my mouth All of a sudden, in a relatively short period, my teeth got loose and wanted to fall out of my jaw bone, due first to gingivitis and then to periodontal disease. I have been a user of Crest all my adult life and am now 71. Clearly, P&G is responsible for making a bad health decision for its customers. In a court of law, they will have to defend their use of plastic in something that goes in our mouths, our bodies, the water system, the oceans, the world! They have knowingly been propagating plastic that within months or a few years make our teeth become loose and fall out!

    Procter & Gamble doesn’t even acknowledge that polyethylene microbeads in Crest toothpaste causes adverse health effects. They say it can’t harm you because it’s inert, forgetting that when it lodges between your gums and teeth, it captures bacteria that cause gum disease. I’ve been seriously damaged by their Crest toothpaste. That damage has cost me a great deal of money, time and pain, and I feel entitled to compensation. Does anyone here know which law firm is spearheading the Crest class action suit? Please email me to let me know. Thanks, tanyaswimr@yahoo.com

  125. GP says

    So very disturbed here. Like many others, my entire family has been using this toothpaste for YEARS! Thank you for all your research and knowledge, Trish.

  126. Messagesftls says

    Here’s what I sent to P&G via their Contact form –

    See article: http://www.dentalbuzz.com/2014/03/04/crest-imbeds-plastic-in-our-gums/

    How in the world did anyone at P&G/Crest think that adding PLASTIC BEADS to toothpaste is ever a good idea? “Decorative” plastic has no place in human mouths. We don’t care if the toothpaste looks “pretty” – we use toothpaste for oral hygiene. We want it to work well and SAFELY. The plastic doesn’t need to be replaced. Remove it NOW!

    How can consumers trust P&G to look out for our best interests and health when this kind of thing happens? P&G needs to align their ACTIONS with its corporate mission (“Trust is a cornerstone of our corporate mission”). Adding plastic to toothpaste is a violation of the consumers’ trust in P&G. What else is P&G adding to its products that is potentially harmful or even toxic?

  127. says

    Here’s the reply from P&G:

    Thanks for contacting Crest, Gerry.

    We appreciate your reaching out. Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our products and the consumers who use them. Our products that contain micro plastics/microbeads are safe for both humans and the environment. Crest toothpaste has NOT been recalled.

    The Crest Complete Toothpastes do not contain the microbeads. And, it may help to know that micro plastics/microbeads are small particles of less than 5mm made of polyethylene (PE) and other materials. PE is used virtually everywhere in our daily life. They’re safe, FDA-approved food additives and are used to impart color in items like chewing gum and toothpaste. They’re also used in other materials. The micro plastics/microbeads are an inactive ingredient and are not associated with any health risk.

    Micro plastics are small particles of less than 5mm consisting of polyethylene(PE) and other materials is used virtually everywhere in our daily life, including bottles and food packaging.

    Also, the micro plastics/micro beads are removed as part of routine waste water treatment processes. So they do not pose a risk to marine life.

    While micro plastics/microbeads are completely safe, as well as approved for use in foods by the FDA, we understand some consumers prefer toothpastes without microbeads. In fact, some of our most popular toothpastes do not contain this substance including Crest Whitening + Scope, Crest Baking Soda Peroxide, Crest Extra Whitening, Crest Cavity, and Crest Tartar + Whitening. Finally, the majority of our toothpaste versions will be microbead-free by March 2015.

    Thanks again for reaching out!

    Oneaka R.

    Crest Team

  128. Tony says

    Is it possible that these micro-beads could lead to an infection that requires a root canal? That is currently where I am at. I’ve been using this Crest toothpaste for about 3 years, and I went to the dentist last week with slight discomfort in my lower teeth/jaw. He found an infection and said I need a root canal.

    From what I can tell, the common causes of an infection are multiple dental procedures on the tooth, deep cavities, or a crack or chipped tooth. I have none of these, and the filling I had in the tooth is “superficial” and no way caused the infection according to my dentist. I am now left wondering if I got an infection from these beads getting stuck in my gums over time.

    Has anyone else heard of stories like these?

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Did you know that polyethylene is the most common plastic in the world? It is used primarily for containers and packaging, such as these bottles and plastic grocery bags, and has been a concern for the environment because polyethylene lasts practically forever and isn’t biodegradable. It only breaks down into smaller and smaller particles until you can’t see it anymore. That’s why a couple of states are trying to ban it in body scrubs and dental products. Keep reading… [...]

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