Toxic Toothpaste

I just read the list of ingredients in my toothpaste. Is this stuff safe?! I wonder, since some ingredients deemed safe are later declared toxic.

For example, triclosan was an ingredient approved for use in toothpaste until recent findings forced the EPA and FDA to take another look. Some companies have responded to consumer concerns. One of them, Crest, now declares their toothpaste is triclosan-free. Unfortunately, they don’t explain exactly why they decided to remove this “safe” ingredient from their products, or why they thought it was okay to put it in their toothpaste to begin with.

Well, then, what the heck is triclosan? According to the FDA, it’s “an ingredient added to many consumer products to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination.” Or as the EPA calls it, an “antimicrobial agent.” But back in 1969, it was classified as a pesticide. Regardless of what they call it, there’s growing concern over the effects of triclosan on humans and the environment, and it’s been banned from use in personal care products in the European Union. Minnesota may be the first state in the U.S. to ban it as well.

When food-safety scares like this emerge, with one side saying it’s poison and the other insisting it’s safe, the problem is that I don’t want to wait 10 years for the research to come in. The FDA says, “Triclosan is not currently known to be hazardous to humans. But several scientific studies have come out since the last time the FDA reviewed this ingredient that merit further review.” Key words: not currently known and further review. In other words, right now we don’t have anything to prove otherwise, but someday it might be considered hazardous to your health and to the environment.

If you’re concerned about the ingredients in store-bought toothpaste, look for chemical-free, fluoride-free brands made from simple, safe ingredients—or make your own. For more about dental health, check out the Selene River Press Historical Archives.

Photo from iStock/fokusgood

Samantha Prust

Samantha Prust is Senior Editor and Administrative Assistant for Selene River Press.

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