The Controversial Antibacterial Agent in Some Toothpastes and Other Products

Brushing your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association (ADA) is a critical component of your oral health, and recent research indicates that regular brushing with toothpaste that contains the antibacterial agent triclosan can reduce instances of plaque and gingivitis, as well as lessen your risk of tooth decay.

Other recent studies, however, suggest that triclosan may be harmful with long-term exposure. In its most recent consumer update on triclosan, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that “triclosan is not currently known to be hazardous to humans,” but the agency is also reviewing new scientific research regarding this popular ingredient.

What is Triclosan?

Triclosan is an antibacterial compound that was initially used as a sanitizing scrub in hospitals.

Since its introduction in the 1970s, triclosan has been used in an increasingly wide range of consumer products including clothes, kitchenware, soap, cosmetics, deodorants, hand sanitizers and cleaning supplies. More recently, triclosan was added to some toothpastes and mouthwashes.

Triclosan and Your Teeth

Triclosan’s addition to some dental hygiene products was based on research in which fluoride toothpaste with triclosan demonstrated an ability to reduce instances of plaque accumulation and gingivitis when compared with regular fluoride toothpaste. Studies also indicated that triclosan toothpaste slightly reduced an individual’s risk of tooth decay when compared to fluoride toothpaste without the antibacterial ingredient.

Dental plaque is the bacteria that forms on our teeth and can lead to gum disease and tooth decay without proper care. The research found that triclosan’s antibacterial properties are effective in toothpaste when paired with a copolymer that helps prevent saliva from washing it away.

Risks of Triclosan

Some studies have suggested that the regular use of products containing triclosan may contribute to bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics. Recent studies in animals have indicated that triclosan may impair hormone regulation and contribute to breast cancer.

So should you avoid products that contain triclosan? The Mayo Clinic, for one, echoes the FDA that there is not currently enough evidence to recommend avoiding products that contain triclosan. The Mayo Clinic also notes that triclosan is not an essential ingredient.

If you have questions about the right toothpaste for you and your family, we encourage you to ask your dentist.

If you’re seeking a knowledgeable and friendly dentist in the Colorado Springs area, please contact The Studio for Exceptional Dentistry online or call our office at 709-602-2614 to schedule your appointment with Dr Andrew Hall.

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