You’re supposed to brush your teeth.
You’re supposed to do that, so bacteria don’t grow out of control and give you all sorts of trouble (like leading to gingivitis, causing excessive tartar build up, or developing cavities).
And so you use toothpaste filled with antibacterial ingredients under the impression that if you brush your teeth, you’re keeping your teeth safe from future damage.
Well, not so fast…
Antibacterial Elements In Toothpaste Could Harm Your Mouth
It turns out that the antibacterial ingredient triclosan could be promoting the growth of bacteria as opposed to killing them.
Triclosan is added to many of the most popular brands of toothpaste with the assumption that it’ll knock bacteria dead.
The problem is, recent studies show that subjects who introduce triclosan into their body end up having 100x more bacteria in their bladder and urine than those who don’t.
Prof. Levin and a team of researchers at the Department of Arts & Sciences at the Washington University in St. Louis recently led the research that helped to determine just how bad of a job triclosan does at fighting bacteria.
Not only did they perform the study you just read about (which they conducted on mice), they also observed how triclosan performed against bacteria in vitro.
“The researchers treated Escherichia coli (E. coli) and MRSA bacteria with these antibiotics in vitro and examined the cells’ behavior. One group of bacterial cells was exposed to triclosan beforehand, while the other group was not.
“[T]triclosan increased E. coli and MRSA tolerant to bactericidal antibiotics as much as 10,000 fold in vitro,” the authors report.
“Triclosan increased the number of surviving bacterial cells substantially,” Prof. Levin continues.
“Normally, one in a million cells survive antibiotics, and a functioning immune system can control them. But triclosan was shifting the number of cells,” the researcher explains.
“Instead of only one in a million bacteria surviving, one in 10 organisms survived after 20 hours. Now, the immune system is overwhelmed.”
Here’s What This Means For You
If you use a name brand toothpaste, it would be wise to check and see if triclosan is an ingredient.
If it is, you should reconsider using it knowing that it may lead to the proliferation of dangerous bacteria.
Especially because they also discovered that triclosan works with a molecule called ppGpp to inhibit how well some antibiotics work to kill bacteria.
When triclosan and ppGpp “team up” it interferes with the formation of new cells, AND it also interferes with the ability of certain antibiotics to kill bacteria.
This is why Professor Levin wrote:
“These data highlight an unexpected and certainly unintended consequence of adding high concentrations of antimicrobials in consumer products, supporting an urgent need to reevaluate the costs and benefits of the prophylactic use of triclosan and other bacteriostatic compounds.”