Micro beads are tiny bits of polyethylene plastic now used in all kinds of personal products – including facial cleaners and toothpaste. The marketing message is that these beads act as “scrubbers” to better exfoliate your skin or whiten your teeth.
They may work well in skin products. In tooth paste, the jury is still out on what the benefits might be – and there have been a few reports about micro beads getting stuck in the crevices between the teeth and gums.
The environmental problems with micro beads are:
1.) They don’t break down or dissolve.
2.) They tend to soak up toxins like a sponge.
3.) They are, well, micro. After washing down the drain, the little plastic bits are so small they tend to slip through most water treatment plants and end up in our waterways.
Once in the water, they look a lot like fish food. An increasing body of scientific evidence suggests that fish are eating them, which can pass the toxins on to humans and wildlife.
We don’t need little bits of plastic in our toothpaste. Check out the label – ingredients called “poly-“ anything are likely plastic-related.
Is toothpaste even necessary?
It’s actually the mechanical action of brushing that does all the work of cleaning teeth. And baking soda is a perfectly good – and cheap – alternative to toothpaste. But it doesn’t taste good, and it isn’t fun to use.
Some toothpaste additives are environmentally safe and can be helpful, including some that:
- Contain fluoride to help prevent cavities
- Help counter sensitivity
- Work to help reduce plaque build up
- Whiten teeth
- Freshen breath
Your dentist can answer your questions and make a recommend about what might be beneficial for you. One of the biggest benefits of toothpaste is that it helps get people to brush their teeth. And that is a very good thing.