Triclosan in Toothpaste: Should You Be Concerned?

In September 2016, the Food And Drug Administration gave manufacturers one year in which to remove triclosan from anitmicrobrial hand soaps. This decision was made due to a lack of evidence about triclosan’s safety. Then, more recently, a group of 200 scientists, medical doctors and public health professionals, representing 29 countries, published a statement that called for stricter limits on the use of triclosan and triclocarban (an antibacterial used mainly in bar soaps).

What are Triclosan and Triclocarban?

Triclosan was first developed as a pesticide and has been around since the 1960s. Because of its germ-killing effect, it has been used in a variety of soaps and body washes. In addition, it is a preservative that is used in cosmetics, and it fights odor, so it may be used in deodorants and body sprays.

Like triclosan, triclocarban is another agent that targets the growth of bacteria such as such as Staphylococcus aureus. About 80 percent of all antimicrobial bar soap sold in the United States contains triclocarban.

Why Have Triclosan and Triclocarban Been Banned?

Because of data that suggested triclosan and triclocarban could contribute to bacterial resistance and disrupt hormones, the FDA issued a proposed rule in December 2013 that required manufacturers to demonstrate that hand soaps and body washes made with these ingredients were safe to use every day and more effective than plain soap and water. If manufacturers didn’t comply, they were to remove these ingredients (plus 17 additional chemicals that are not as common) from their products.

The deadline for triclosan and triclocarban removal is September 2017.

The only toothpaste containing triclosan that has been approved by the American Dental Association is Colgate Total. The toothpaste has a concentration of 0.3 percent of triclosan, which is the active ingredient in Colgate Total that fights plaque and gingivitis.

The chemical has been shown to be effective in preventing gum disease, and this usage has gone through the FDA regulatory framework of the New Drug Application process. A 2013 independent review of 30 studies by The Cochrane Database of Stematic REviews found that toothpastes with triclosan and fluoride reduced plaque severity by 41 percent more than fluoride toothpastes alone, gum inflammation by 22 percent more and gum bleeding by 48 percent more than fluoride alone.

The use of toothpaste with triclosan is a prime example of a question where you must weight the risks against the benefits. If you suffer from gum disease (which carries its own health risks), a toothpaste with triclosan may be worth it. But if you are woman trying to get pregnant, triclosan is an endocrine disruptor and may affect your ability get pregnant.

If you are worried about the risks of triclosan, look for a toothpaste that has another antimicrobial agent: stannous fluoride, which protects againstt gingivitis, plaque and tooth sensitivity.

Questions? Contact us at Enlighten Dental Care: (336) 765-0904.

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