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Why you should avoid microbeads in your toothpaste, too

Meagan Morris is an entertainment and lifestyle journalist living in New York City. In addition to SheKnows, Morris contributes to many publications including The New York Times, Yahoo! News, PopEater, NBC New York and Spinner. Follow he...

Beads: Bad for teeth?

Illinois just banned face washes formulated with microbeads because of the havoc those little plastic balls wreak on the environment. That's not the only problems those little abrasives cause.

Woman brushing teeth

Photo credit: nicolas hansen/E+/Getty Images

Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate.

For years, we've been encouraged to scrub our faces and teeth with abrasive cleaners to brush off the dead skin cells and icky plaque. It works for our dishes, so why wouldn't it work for our bodies?

Except that all of those little microbeads that are infused into our favorite beauty products aren't as great as they seem. Many of those tiny beads are made with polyethylene and other forms of plastic that aren't biodegradable and eventually end up in landfills — and into the bodies of defenseless marine and wildlife.

Those little beads can severely impact your dental health, too. Crest's 3D Vivid toothpastes are one line formulated with the beads, but only for "decorative purposes only." However, they can pose a serious risk to your oral health over time.

"The microbeads are made up of polyethylene which is a material that never fully breaks down; it keeps getting smaller and smaller until it is nearly undetectable to the human eye," says Dr. Jessica Emery, D.D.S., cosmetic dentist and owner of Sugar Fix Dental Loft Chicago. "So, you are brushing your teeth daily with a plastic substance that can break down to a size smaller than a millimeter. This substance can then get stuck in your sulcus, which is like the 'cuticle' of your gum line where bacteria likes to fester."

A clean sulcus is one of the major components of great oral hygiene, but those tiny beads can affect your ability to maintain clean teeth and gums.

"The microbeads can get trapped in this very sensitive and vulnerable area of your mouth clearing a path for other unwanted substances like bacteria," adds Dr. Emery.

Extended use of abrasive toothpastes can also wear away at your enamel, giving you more dental headaches down the road.

"To best protect your mouth and the environment, it is suggested you choose a toothpaste without microbeads," states Dr. Emery.

Instead, opt for natural toothpastes that contain ingredients like aloe vera juice. Your best bet? Get recommendations from your dentist; she knows what's best for your oral health — it's her job!

More on dental health

Soda, grinding and… brushing? The worst things you’re doing to your teeth
Are you brushing your teeth correctly?
The No. 1 worst food for your teeth (it's not candy)

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