The FDA effectively outlawed the harsh antibacterial chemical triclosan from hand soaps, so you might be shocked to learn that there’s a good chance you could still be putting it in your mouth every day.
After years of speculation that triclosan may not be best for human health, the horrific results of several animal studies have led to a full-fledged ban on the chemical and all products containing it, including antibacterial hand soaps, deodorant, personal and household cleaning items, and cosmetics.
Though absolutely a step in the right direction, the ban was unfortunately limited to consumer products in the topical realm of soaps and cosmetics with one major exclusion: oral care products.
That’s right. Your toothpaste and other oral health products could still contain hormone-altering triclosan, despite the FDA’s ruling.
So, why is it still in your toothpaste?
It appears that the jury is currently still out on the risks versus benefits of triclosan for oral health.
After being presented with a range of scientific evidence that triclosan can ease and even eradicate certain oral health conditions, the FDA stopped short of removing it from toothpaste.
But a growing number of holistic dentists and practitioners suggest that you steer clear of triclosan if you can.
“I won’t use triclosan or recommend it. Its potential upside in improving oral health is at best, minimal. At worst, triclosan could alter hormone functioning and upset the delicate balance of bacteria in your mouth that keep it healthy.” - Dr. Mark Burhenne DDS
What we know about triclosan and oral health:
Triclosan is like a nuclear weapon in your mouth, completely nuking any and all bacteria within range.
This has its upsides. On one hand, it’s really good at destroying bad bacteria. That’s why there are many studies indicating that it can help with ultra-specific oral health conditions that stem from microbial mayhem.
However, because human beings are not steel-framed erector sets, but instead are literally composed of bacteria, utilizing an “atomic bomb”-style antibacterial agent like triclosan on a daily basis can be detrimental to your inner ecosystem of important, life-giving microorganisms that live within your oral and nasal cavities.
Disrupting the balance of flora in your mouth can lead to all kinds of issues like dry mouth, bad breath, and temporary inflammation that can go so far as to impact the health of your immune system overall.
When it comes to our families, there’s not much we wouldn’t do to keep everyone safe and healthy. If you’re pregnant or taking care of budding baby teeth, optimal oral health is paramount for nurturing growing immune systems.
And though the FDA has not yet banned triclosan and the like from oral health products, it begs the question: do you want to put something in your mouth that’s been banned from contacting your skin?
You can pour over the studies on triclosan to make an impartial judgment of whether or not the benefits outweigh the massive risks in regard your personal health situation (you can find them on the FDA.gov website).
Until then, here’s how you can support healthy teeth and gums without harsh chemicals:
1. Ditch the Colgate Total® and choose a triclosan-free toothpaste. Triclosan is part of Colgate Total’s proprietary blend, and it’s important to know that there are other antimicrobial and antibacterial chemicals hidden within many oral health products on the market. Be sure to check the labels and make informed decisions with the ingredients you use.
2. Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is not only great for your organs and cells, but it’s also a natural way to help keep the oral environment free of larger bits that can get stuck between your teeth and create problems down the road.
3. Brush and floss after every meal. Stick with a tried-and-true oral health routine that includes brushing and flossing at least twice a day, ideally after each meal to ensure your teeth and gums are free of debris. Even without antimicrobial agents, simply brushing and flossing consistently can ensure you have a healthy smile and all of the accompanying benefits.
4. See your dentist regularly for teeth cleanings. Your dentist can help you keep your teeth and gums in peak condition without all of those pesky over-the-counter chemicals and cleaners. Bi-annual, professional teeth cleanings help to remove unseen buildup that you couldn’t otherwise get with brushing and flossing at home.
5. Supplement with oral probiotics. A natural probiotic supplement like Hyperbiotics PRO-Dental with strains targeted for oral health (like S. salivarius K12 and S. salivarius M18) can help repopulate the oral microbiome with the healthy, beneficial bacteria that’s so often lost due to things like stress, age, processed foods, antibiotics and the antibacterial and antimicrobial ingredients in oral health care products.
Because concerns over triclosan in consumer products stem primarily from its inclusion in soaps and cosmetics, you can decide for yourself whether or not you’d like to brush your teeth with it every day (we’ll stick with natural toothpaste from our friends at Earth Paste, thanks!)
Additionally, knowledge is power. Now you can live healthier days by keeping a careful eye on the balance of millions of bacteria working cooperatively to keep you happy, healthy, and thriving.
Have you checked the ingredients in your bathroom cabinet lately? It may be time you take a look!
Julie Hays is the Communications Director here at Hyperbiotics. Health writer and mama of three little girls, Julie's on a mission to empower others to live lives free of the microbial depletion many of us face today. For more ideas on how you can maximize wellness and benefit from the power of probiotics, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.