Yup, you read that right. Some toothpaste companies are adding small bits of plastic to their toothpaste called polyethylene. The claims are that the particles are to add color, and are an inactive ingredient in the paste, not even listed on the box.
So, what is the harm you ask? Well, for starters as a dental hygienist I am seeing plenty of patients who use certain toothpastes that have blue specks around their gums when I clean them. They may be harmless, but any foreign substance around and in our gums can be an irritant. Irritants can result in inflammation and bleeding, although there is no conclusive evidence yet that this is occurring.
The second factor to this is environmental. The polyethylene particles do not dissolve but just break down into smaller and smaller pieces. The particles are being washed into the drains of our sinks, thus entering the water supply. While they are filtered out of the public water supply, they are still present in our local rivers.
There are a few states that are starting to ban microbeads from products such as toothpastes, face wash and lotions. Colorado is not one of them.