Sparkles in your toothpaste may make your smile spotty

Published: Sep. 17, 2014 at 7:51 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 17, 2014 at 8:56 PM CDT
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(KLTV) - A major toothpaste manufacturer is making changes to its ingredients after a Texas dental hygienist noticed strange blue dots in her patient's mouths. It was tiny plastic beads, she figured out, from their toothpaste. Now, Proctor and Gamble-owned Crest is changing the mix.

They make your toothpaste look glittery, but dentists say they make your mouth look spotty.

"For a long time I've noticed the little tiny speckles and I thought it was just some type of coloration they put in there," said Dr. Loyd Dowd, with Tyler Dental Care.

Turns out the little speckles are micro-beads made up of polyethylene, a plastic used in all kinds of things from grocery bags to knee replacements.

Dr. Dowd said they've been showing up in patient's teeth for years.

"Our dental hygienist says that she takes them out from around people's teeth all the time," he said.

Though several brands use the beads the most common is Crest. The company's manufacturer issued a statement saying "while the ingredient in question is completely safe, approved for use in foods by the FDA, and part of an enjoyable brushing experience for millions of consumers with no issues, we understand there is a growing preference for us to remove this ingredient. So we will."

"I haven't seen anybody lose their teeth because of them or infections because of them. I can see how they might tend to trap some plaque, but as far as really causing any major, major problems, I haven't seen it," Dr. Dowd explained.

To see if your toothpaste has those beads, just squeeze some out onto your finger. They look like little dots in the paste, often blue in color. If you've recent stocked up on Crest toothpaste with those pesky micro-beads, Dr. Dowd said, "it's up to the consumer. You know, if they want to throw it away because they're concerned about it, fine. "

Otherwise, use it up, they'll be out of Crest toothpaste for good by March of 2016. The Crest manufacturer said it has already begun removing micro-beads from products and the majority of their product will be micro-bead free within six months. The full removal process will be complete in 2016.

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