Dental Observer

Fun and strange news in the world of dentistry



October 2014



Hygienist shocked after finding this in the gums of patients

Written by , Posted in Dental News

polyethylene in Crest toothpaste

As Trish Walraven, a Phoenix-based dental hygienist, was caring for her patients, she has become aware of the presence of something unusual inside their oral cavity – which she later on discussed for public awareness. Though she has practiced her profession for a long period time, she admitted that this is the first time she has ever encountered that in her entire career.

 KNXV TV Phoenix, a trusted television station associated with ABC, released reports that a toothpaste-making company is already looking into the issue and taking initial steps for the alarming situation.

Walraven said in one of her statements that they were thinking that the thing she saw was a cleaning agent or might be a small chewable food. However, as she observed closely, she noticed that it was not just a bubble gum but tiny blue dots in a person’s periodontal space or the gap between the gums and teeth.

polyethylene in Crest toothpaste

polyethylene in Crest toothpaste

The intriguing appearance of the blue particles made her ask for opinion from other dental hygienists. You guessed it right; they have seen those objects on their patients as well. After some thorough researches, they found out what substance the blue microbeads were from –polyethylene.

Polyethylene is a vinyl polymer that we come across every day. For those who don’t know it is a well-known plastic, which is mainly used for packaging purposes. From this substance, we get plastic bags and containers, television, and watches. Today, this substance is already present in tooth whitening products like toothpastes.

According to Walraven, there seems to be one toothpaste manufacturer that uses microbeads to a greater extent compared to other brands. After a series of tests, Walraven, together with other dental experts, were learned that the majority of their patients were using the brand Crest.

Justin Phillip, owner of J Phillip Centers for Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, said that we should keep ourselves far from these tiny blue substances. He said that having microbeads promotes bacterial growth which causes our gums to be inflamed which later on leads to periodontal disease. When asked about his thoughts about periodontal disease, he described it as a threat to our total well-being.

As Trish Walraven is a dental hygienist and a blogger at the same time, she decided to publish her thoughts about the odd substance that she found inside her patients’ mouths. Her writing has drawn the attention of the public and America’s multinational product manufacturer, Proctor & Gamble. It has alerted a lot of its users and has apparently made every person become more aware of the substances that make up the products used in their day-to-day living. Be on your guard: Choose your toothpaste wisely.

Crest’s spokesperson said in an ABC 15 interview that as the nature of the ingredient is still under investigation, they will be eliminating the microbeads from their products. He added that in a matter of six months, the public should expect that a greater portion of Crest’s toothpastes will have no microbeads; and before the start of the second quarter of 2016, the public can expect microbead-free toothpastes from Crest.


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