ToothpasteNew study says triclosan in toothpaste shouldn’t be feared

The antibiotic triclosan has been in the news recently because of the fear that its use in everyday consumer products could cause a public health risk by stimulating resistance to important antimicrobials. But a study published in an online journal of the American Society of Microbiology says not to worry.

Most relevant to oral health, toothpaste contains triclosan because it’s known to help alleviate dental plaque and gum disease. Many personal hygiene products, health care products and common household items like plastic and textiles also make use of the ingredient. It’s typically added to consumer products to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination.

It is so common that studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2008 found triclosan in 75 percent of human urine samples

Recent studies have raised the question of whether triclosan could make bacteria resistant to antibiotics the body could need, and even that it could change the composition of the human microbiome, which can lead to serious diseases. The FDA has been engaged in ongoing studies about triclosan, and, after ordering soap manufacturers to prove the product is safe and more effective than soap and water alone, it has largely been removed from many of the antibacterial soaps and body washes that previously included it. Advocates say it’s primarily because of evidence that soap and water is just as effective.

This recent study, however, found that exposure to triclosan through normal hygiene and household products does not harm the human microbiome. The four-month study, conducted by researchers at Stanford, found that while the use of triclosan-containing products did have a major impact on the antibiotic’s presence in participants’ urine, both the oral and gut mircobiome remained largely unchanged.

More research is likely on the horizon. The FDA’s current stance is that triclosan is not known to be hazardous to humans and there isn’t sufficient safety evidence to recommend consumers stop using products with triclosan. According to Colgate, the primary toothpaste on the market that contain triclosan, reviews by the USDA, FDA and American Dental Association confirm triclosan’s safe use in toothpaste. Colgate retains its ADA seal, which means it has met the organization’s criteria for safety and efficacy.

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