Did You Know Toothpaste Ingredient Reportedly Bad For Your Bones?
Feb. 17, 2020
Regular brushing and flossing are the cornerstones of good oral health. But what if you learned that your toothpaste was good for your
teeth but bad for your bones? That possibility has been raised by a recent study. The cause of this unprecedented finding may be triclosan,
an antibacterial agent added to toothpaste to reduce gum infections and improve oral health. However, it may actually be causing more
harm than good.
Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly is essential in maintaining good oral health. However, it is also good to check to find out whether
the toothpaste you are using contains harmful chemicals that can negatively affect other parts of your body in this case, your bones.
That is exactly what is raised in a recent study, which showed that triclosan, an antibacterial agent added to the toothpaste that reduces
gum infections and improves oral health, can pose more problems to your bones than it does benefit your teeth.
What Is Triclosan?
An antibacterial agent that has been around since 1972, triclosan was first used in making surgical scrubs for hospitals. Since then, it was
used in making soaps, hand sanitizers and deodorants, even finding its way into cutting boards, credit cards, trash cans and eventually
toothpaste. Triclosan is also present in clothes, toys, cookware and furniture to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination, although that
is because these are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The addition of triclosan to these products allowed marketers to add the "antibacterial" label on the packaging and emphasize that feature
on those products, giving consumers an unproven implication that products containing triclosan (or other antibacterial agents) might
prevent serious infections.
However, studies were done in animals or human cells in labs over a span of many years have raised concern over whether the
"cleanliness" associated with triclosan has negative (albeit unintended) side effects, which include:
i. Development of resistant bacteria
ii. Abnormal hormonal function
iii. Increased allergic reactions
iv. Impaired muscles
v. Uncertain environmental impacts
With these side effects in mind, using a product containing triclosan may cause you to absorb a small amount through your skin or mouth,
as evidenced in a 2008 study, which found that more than 75 per cent of the test subjects had detectable amounts of triclosan in their
urine. While triclosan's health impacts on humans are still uncertain, the FDA had then taken action to eliminate its use, resulting in the
antibacterial agent being banned from consumer products since 2016, starting with soaps, followed by health cleansers in 2017. It will also
be eliminated from hand sanitizers by April 2020.
The Research Findings
The researchers in the recent study reviewed data from more than 1,800 women and found that:
1. Those with high levels of triclosan in the urine had the lowest measures of bone density.
2. Osteoporosis was common among those with the highest levels of urinary triclosan levels. Measured by bone density, osteoporosis is
marked by bone density so low even a minor fall or injury could increase fracture risk.
3. Low bone density's link to high urinary triclosan levels was stronger for post-menopausal women than among younger women. This is
particularly important since menopause is a time marked by an oft-dramatic fall in bone density, and post-menopausal women have the
highest rates of osteoporosis-linked fractures.
Although it is only the latest research that raises concerns on the safety of triclosan, it may not be long before a ban on its use on
toothpaste will be issued by the FDA, especially if there are no new studies that can dispute the findings.