Should You Use a Toothpaste With Triclosan?
The American Food and Drug Administration made the news in 2016 by banning triclosan in antibacterial soaps. However, this bacteria-killing chemical remains in many toothpastes sold around the world. In the light of triclosan's risks, should you stop using it to clean your teeth, or does it have hidden benefits? Take a look at the evidence for and against using a toothpaste with triclosan.
Triclosan: The Risks
Animal studies suggest that triclosan exposure decreases the amount of thyroid hormones that the body produces. These hormones are essential for regulating metabolism. It is not clear whether triclosan causes the same problem in humans, but scientists are keen to do more research to clarify the risks.
Other studies suggest that regularly using triclosan can lead to the development of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. A further study is looking into the possibility that long-term triclosan exposure could increase the risk of skin cancer.
Triclosan: The Benefits
With so many health scares surrounding triclosan, you might wonder why toothpaste manufacturers use this potentially dangerous chemical in their products. In spite of its drawbacks, triclosan is very good at killing oral bacteria which cause gum disease.
According to a review published in 2005, people who use a triclosan-containing toothpaste are less likely to develop gingivitis, a condition where the gums swell and become especially sensitive. Gingivitis can develop into advanced gum disease, which affects the jawbone and causes tooth loss if it is left untreated.
Alternatives to Triclosan
Using a toothpaste that contains triclosan is not the only thing you can do to lower your risk of developing gum disease. Brushing your teeth thoroughly every morning and evening removes most of the dental plaque that contributes to gum disease, while flossing every day gets rid of plaque in the hard-to-reach places between your teeth. You can also use an oral rinse to wash traces of plaque from your mouth. A good dental hygiene routine should always be the first step you take to prevent gum disease.
In spite of daily flossing, brushing and rinsing, some people still struggle with plaque and tartar building up on their teeth. For these people, it is very important to have regular dental checkups and dental cleanings to remove the plaque and lower the risk of gum disease.
Is Triclosan a Good Choice For You?
For people at high risk of gum disease, the proven benefits of triclosan in preventing gum disease may outweigh the possible risks. If you are not sure whether you would benefit from using a toothpaste with this powerful antibacterial ingredient, consult a dentist for advice.