If you’ve been following the oral care headlines lately, you may have noticed more attention being paid to triclosan. What’s going on here? What has triclosan got to do with good dental health and fresh breath? Nothing, if the news stories are any indication. Multiple studies have shown that, while natural products like probiotic care kits address bad breath sensibly, those that contain triclosan may be doing more harm than good.
Specifically, researchers have noted that excess triclosan use might encourage oral bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics. That’s clearly a problem…
Pesticide pushes the limits of safety
Tufts University has published a number of documents online suggesting that Americans need to go easy on all the triclosan. But wait! you say. I’m not buying barrels of the stuff, so why should I worry about it? The problem, as any oral healthcare expert can tell you, is that many synthetic dental products contain triclosan.
In particular, common toothpastes and mouthwashes include the stuff. While the ostensible reason is pretty logical (i.e. triclosan is an antimicrobial agent), the effects of using this chemical make its inclusion totally nonsensical.
For starters, triclosan is a pesticide. Look it up. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it’s commonly used to kill mildew, bacteria and funguses on crops. Not something you want swirling around in your mouth, is it?
Now, you might that think triclosan is fine as long as it’s used orally in small doses. The EPA once felt that way, too. However, the agency has begun to rethink this position based on recently collected medical data. It has decided to initiate a full review of human triclosan use, starting in 2013.
Bacteria get used to it
The problem with triclosan isn’t simply that it’s a synthetic chemical. What’s also at issue is the way consumers use it.