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After concerns, Procter & Gamble to remove polyethylene from toothpastes

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CINCINNATI — After a dental hygienist noticed something strange in her patients’ mouths, she took action, and now manufacturer Procter & Gamble is making several changes to numerous products.

Trish Walraven noticed little blue specks in the gum lines. And she talked with other hygienists, who noticed the same thing.

“We thought it was a cleaning product or something people were chewing,” she told WCPO.

Finally, Walraven figured out what it was: polyethylene, a plastic used in numerous products from garbage containers and grocery bags. And, apparently, in some toothpaste products.

“It is used primarily for containers and packaging … and has been a concern for the environment because polyethylene lasts practically forever and isn’t biodegradable,” Walraven said. “It only breaks down into smaller and smaller particles until you can’t see it anymore.”

Walraven said Crest, which is manufactured by Procter & Gamble, appeared to use the plastic more than any other toothpaste brand.

“Pretty much everyone was saying that they were using some form of Crest toothpaste,” Walraven said.

A dentist told the WCPO the microbeads can get trapped in the gums, increasing the chances of bacteria.

Walraven has written a blog about the issue — and lists the Crest brands that use polyethylene.

Procter & Gamble told WCPO that polyethylene is safe.

“While the ingredient in question is … part of an enjoyable brushing experience for millions of consumers with no issues, we understand there is a growing preference for us to remove this ingredient,” the company said. “So we will.”

The manufacturer added that it will remove all microbeads from all of its toothpastes within the next six months.

Brands Walraven has identified that use polyethylene