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Toothpastes Come under Scrutiny on Safety - CHOICE # 454

  • 2014.08.14

Is there a perfect toothpaste that effectively combines and delivers all the benefits: stain removal, cavity prevention, plaque control, gum disease protection, sensitivity reduction, whitening and brightening, fresh breath, and what not?

But equally important in the quest for perfection is the issue of safety since the product is inevitably for purpose of use inside the mouth. Just imagine any unsafe substance may find its way literally direct into your body.

The Consumer Council has undertaken a test on 35 different toothpastes, including 9 children toothpastes, to find out their ingredients and what other substances present that may affect the product safety.

First and foremost, to evaluate their safety, the samples were put to test to detect the presence and level of harmful heavy metals (lead, arsenic and mercury), toxic chemicals (diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol), and a bleaching agent (hydrogen peroxide).

Furthermore, the samples were subjected to various microbiological analyses on: total bacterial count, yeast and mold count, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and fecal coliform.

The tests were conducted with reference to the Hygienic Standard for Cosmetics, China and GB8372-2008 (Toothpaste), which are largely in line with prevailing international standards.

And what a relief to consumers who habitually use the product in brushing their teeth, day and night, every day! All toothpaste samples were found to be in compliance with the Hygienic Standard and safe to use.

The test did detect traces of heavy metals: lead was present in the range from not-detected to 1.4 ppm, which is far below the maximum concentration of 40 ppm stipulated in the Hygienic Standard, a minute amount of arsenic in one sample and mercury in another.

Hydrogen peroxide, ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol, were not found in any of the samples.

The microbiological analyses gave the samples a clean bill of health; only a very small amount of bacteria was detected in 3 samples.

Triclosan, an anti-bacterial agent, was found present in 3 samples in quantities of 0.089%, 0.24% and 0.25%; all were within the safety standard of not exceeding the maximum limit of 0.3%.

Most toothpastes contain fluoride, an ingredient in proper amount is proven to be safe and effective in preventing and controlling dental caries.

The fluoride content of the 21 regular samples and 5 children samples was found, at 0.09%-0.14% and 0.01%-0.06% respectively, within the maximum concentration of fluoride permissible in the Hygienic Standard.

No fluoride was detected in the 9 (5 regular and 4 children) samples which made no claim of fluoride as an ingredient.

In the interest of enhancing safe use of fluoridated toothpaste by children, parents are advised to supervise tooth cleaning closely to minimize the risk of developing dental fluorosis, and limit the use to only small (green pea-size) quantities of toothpaste each time.

Dental fluorosis is caused by ingesting too much fluoride during the age of development from birth to about 6 years of age. Parents may consider the use of a children toothpaste that is low in fluoride content or without, and a toothpaste that is low in lead concentration or without.

Toothpastes vary vastly in their price range: from $5.5 to $45 per 100?g for regular toothpastes sampled, and from $16.1 to $178.3 per 100 g for children toothpastes sampled.

The choice of a toothpaste is largely a matter of personal choice and preference. If you have or suspect to have a dental problem, consult a dentist for recommendation of what toothpaste is best for your needs.

Otherwise, as long as you select a fluoride-containing toothpaste and when used properly, they are safe and help to maintain your dental health.

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