Are you brushing your teeth with microbeads?

Bristol dentist asks: are you brushing your teeth with microbeads?We’re all aware of the introduction of microbeads – tiny balls of plastic smaller than a grain of sand – to the exfoliating products we use.

We’re also equally aware of their drawbacks – how they end up in the oceans, sucking up toxins and eventually ending up ending up in the bellies of fish (some of whom end up in the bellies of some of us). In fact, it’s been announced that they’ll be banned in cosmetics in the UK by the end of 2017.

Microbeads in dental products

But were you aware that microbeads can also be used in dental products? That fact was recently drawn to our attention by a Mail Online article about a London woman who started using a whitening toothpaste, unaware that
it contained microbeads – and her use of an electric toothbrush meant she was effectively grinding small particles of plastic into her teeth and gums.

Now she’s claiming that she’s lost about 2mm from the gums surrounding her lower front teeth and complains of pain when she drinks fruit juice.

This problem flared up a couple of years ago, when American dentists started to notice tiny flecks of plastic embedded in their patients’ gums, and although most toothpastes in the UK have cut them out, there are still a few
toothpastes that haven’t yet.

It goes without saying that microbeads are a definite no-no when it comes to oral health – not only do they cut into the enamel and gum tissue, they can also trap bacteria and lead to all manner of infections.

So why put them in?

Usually found in skin products, microbeads are seen as a cheap and always-available substitute for natural exfoliants, and they can also bulk out and add colour to a product. There’s no actual benefit for the user.

Because the toothpastes involved don’t advertise the fact that they use microbeads, you need to take a close look at the ingredients – if they contain the likes of plastics such as Polyethylene, Polypropylene, Polyethylene Terephthalate and Polymethyl Methacrylate, you need to stop using them right away. If in doubt, ask your dentist