Last week, the Food and Drug Administration made a monumental move that banned antibacterial chemicals like triclosan from soaps. But one personal care product you won’t see the controversial ingredient vanishing from? Your toothpaste.
That’s because Colgate Total—the top-selling toothpaste on the market—has single-handedly convinced the FDA that triclosan still belongs in their products, according to the New York Times.
How is that possible, considering the recent findings that triclosan could be doing more harm than good (like, to your hormones and your gut, for two major examples)? Colgate, the only toothpaste in the United States that uses the ingredient, says the benefits outweigh any risks.
What benefits? FDA spokeswoman Andrea Fischer said in a statement that toothpastes containing triclosan have “demonstrated to be effective at reducing plaque and gingivitis,” according to the Times. In fact, studies show that toothpastes with triclosan were more effective at reducing plaque and gum inflammation than those without.
So are there really no side effects of using the chemical? Back in 1997 when Colgate was introducing triclosan into its product, it went through extensive testing that found no health risks.
But seriously, if you’re concerned about the ingredient getting into your body via hand soaps, imagine using it on your gums—”where chemicals get rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream,” according to Rolf Halden, director of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University.
If you’d prefer to go triclosan-free but want a bit of extra plaque-fighting power, Richard Niederman, DDS, chairman of New York University’s College of Dentistry, suggests opting for toothpastes with stannous fluoride instead. It’s another microbial that helps rebuild tooth enamel.
Some people even say fluoride can have some undesirable effects, like acne. Time to consider cleaner options—can a holistic dentist get your teeth clean?