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Phoenix dental hygienist pushes for toothpaste changes

A Phoenix dental hygienist is pushing for changes to Crest toothpaste after frequently coming across plastic microbeads she attributed to various Crest toothpastes. 2 / 2

Phoenix, AZ (CNN) - A dental hygienist in phoenix noticed something strange in the mouths of her patients - and spoke up about it. Now a toothpaste manufacturer is taking action.

Trish Walraven - Dental Hygienist: "I didn't have any clue what is was."

Trish Walraven has seen lots of things as a dental hygienist, but until a few years agi she had never seen anything like this.

Trish Walraven: "We thought it was a cleaning product or something that people were chewing."

Walraven was finding little blue dots trapped in the tiny spaces between people's teeth and gums.        

Trish Walraven: "Some weeks I'll see 5 or 6 patients."

Walvaren started asking around, and other hygienists were seeing it too. It took a while, but they finally figured out what it was.

Trish Walraven: "Polyethylene."

It's a plastic used in all kinds of things: garbage containers, grocery bags, bullet proof vests, even knee replacements - and now in toothpaste. Walvaren says one brand appears to use the plastic microbeads more than others.

Trish Walraven: "Pretty much everyone was saying that they were using some form of Crest toothpaste."

Valley Dentist Justin Phillip says the microbeads shouldn't be anywhere near your mouth.

Dr. Justin Phillip - Valley Dentist: "They'll trap bacteria in the gums, which leads to gingivitis, and over time that infection moves from the gum into the bone that holds your teeth and that becomes periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is scary."

Walvaren wants the beads gone too. She wrote a blog that has gotten national attention. It even caught the eye of Proctor & Gamble. In a statement the Crest manufacturer says: "While the ingredient in question is completely safe...we understand there is a growing preference for us to remove the ingredient. So we will."

Crest says the majority of its toothpaste will be microbead-free in six months. They'll be completely gone by March of 2016. If you want to make sure the product you’re using is microbead-free, take a look at the ingredient list and make sure it doesn't include polyethylene.

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