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.
Say that, daily, you brush your teeth three times and rinse with mouthwash twice, all with non-specialty products. That’s five uses of triclosan per day, or more than 1,800 uses in a year. All this exposure to the substance runs a rather disturbing risk – namely, that bacteria will start becoming immune to it.
Triclosan-based products cannot kill all the bacteria in your mouth, meaning that after each exposure, the surviving microbes grow back a little less vulnerable to the stuff. Over time, it appears that this effect can mushroom out of control.
According to experts at Tufts University, triclosan already does nothing to stop colonization by Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Clostridium difficile, bacterial species that can cause organ sepsis and diarrhea, respectively.
Imagine what widespread triclosan use might lead to in the future.
Probiotic care vs. triclosan: A one-sided contest
Compared to toothpastes containing trace amounts of pesticides, probiotic care products sound pretty good, don’t they? These all-natural kits contain no triclosan, alcohol or dyes. This means less irritation of the mouth tissue, less dryness and – best of all – no risk of antibiotic resistance.
You see, probiotics work with the mouth’s natural ecosystem, rather than against it. Such specialty breath freshening products take action by doing one simple thing: introducing new microbial species into the oral environment.
These specially chosen strains (M18 and K12) immediately start setting up shop. They emit proteins called BLIS (bacteriocin-like inhibitory substances) that prevent other microorganisms from flourishing. As a result, odor-causing bacteria have no choice but to scram.
With specialty probiotic care products, you can manage your bad breath, keep your mouth clean and tell stinky microbes to get lost – and you don’t have to risk antibiotics resistance to do it!