Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned several key chemicals in hand soap, one of them being triclosan, an antibacterial and anti fungal agent found in many consumer products including toothpaste. The decision by the F.D.A. to ban triclosan in soaps came after experts pushed the agency to regulate antimicrobial chemicals, warning that they risk altering hormones in children and promote drug-resistant infections.
The New York Times reported that Colgate Total toothpaste still contains this ingredient. Colgate defends their use of the product stating that the FDA allows the use of triclosan in toothpaste because studies have demonstrated it to be effective at reducing plaque and gingivitis. However, according to a study put out by Cochrane Oral Health Group after 7 months of use of a triclosan toothpaste there was a roughly 22% reduction in inflammation caused by gingivitis (an early form of gum disease) More importantly, after 36 months there was no evidence of reduction in the development of periodontitis (a more severe form of gum disease resulting in bone and tooth loss). For the truly dedicated, two to three years of using triclosan toothpaste showed only a 5 percent drop in cavities compared with brushing with fluoride paste alone. Colgate Total is the only toothpaste in the United States that contains triclosan.
The American Dental Association and the FDA consider triclosan-based toothpaste safe because the product contains small amounts of the chemical. Most people will likely have no adverse effects, but the question is, would you want it in your mouth if you’re concerned about it being in your soap? The answer is probably not.
Dr. Glass’ recommendation is to choose a toothpaste with stannous fluoride instead. There has been a stir in recent media regarding fluoride as well, but the addition of fluoride in water, is there to help children build stronger teeth for the rest of their lives. The fluoride in toothpaste — as well as the topical fluoride varnish that a dentist applies to your pearly whites during a routine visit — is present to prevent tooth decay. There is no evidence that the small amount of fluoride in toothpaste has any adverse health effects. Unfortunately, most of our food is very acidic, many of the beverages we’re consuming are about as acidic as stomach acid. Fluoride becomes a really necessary component and the benefits far outweigh any negatives.
To see the full Cochrane report follow this link: