You know there’s a National Month or Week of nearly everything. That includes dental hygiene. And hygiene’s month is this month. So saith the American Dental Hygienists’ Association. And the Wrigley’s Gum folks.

And so to the usual tip list of floss, brush and rinse, they’ve added “chew.”

Sure, chewing sugarless gum is one way to help increase saliva flow, a natural defense for your teeth. But it’s not essential in the way brushing and flossing are essential. You know “chew” would not be on this list save for the sponsorship by Wrigley.

And just as you don’t want sugar in your gum – should you choose to chew it at all – there are things you don’t want, for various reasons, in your toothpaste: fluoride, SLS, triclosan, titanium dioxide, plastic…

Yes, plastic. Some manufacturers really do put that in toothpaste.

Case in point: Many varieties of Crest contain the most common plastics around: polyethylene, in the form of “microbeads.” One of the problems with this, as a dental hygienist noted on her blog earlier this year, is that these tiny bits of plastic easily get stuck in the sulcus – the space between tooth and gums. Scrubbing into the gums tends to embed the microbeads. (Another problem: Such non-biodegradable microbeads pollute the environment, but that’s another story for another time.)

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.

Now Proctor & Gamble – the makers of Crest – have grown concerned enough to announce that they will stop putting polyethylene in its toothpastes – “by March of 2016.”

We don’t know why it will take so long.

We do know that the thought of scrubbing plastic into the soft tissues of your mouth puts a bit of a new spin on the name of one affected variety of Crest:

Crest Be Adventurous

Frankly, when it comes to toothbrushing, is “adventurous” really anything you’d like to be? It makes us think of this guy:

And to state the obvious, no, you should NOT try this yourself – at home or anywhere else.


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