CINCINNATI -- An antibacterial chemical now effectively banned in soap is still used in the nation's best-selling toothpaste brand.
If you're a Procter and Gamble loyalist, you won't find it in your tube of Crest.
Instead, it's found in Colgate Total, made by the New York City-based Colgate-Palmolive Company.
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The Food and Drug Administration's recent move to ban triclosan from soaps came after experts warned its overuse could lead to drug-resistant infections and cause hormonal issues in children. But Colgate convinced the FDA that the benefits of the chemical, triclosan, outweighed any risks, the New York Times reported.
Colgate Total is the only toothpaste in the United States that contains triclosan, according to the Times' report. Colgate's original submission for FDA approval included more than 100 toxicology studies, and the product went through a far more rigorous safety review than other toothpastes, the company said.
Toothpastes containing triclosan are better at reducing plaque, gum inflammation and gum bleeding than fluoride alone, according to an analysis of 30 studies conducted by The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
But Dr. Rolf Halden, a director for environmental security at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, told the Times that review didn't look at triclosan's hormonal effects over the long term.
"We put soap on our hands, and a small amount gets into our body," Halden said. Through the gums, "chemicals get rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream."
Colgate told the Times it provides annual monitoring and safety updates to the FDA about its toothpaste.
"The full weight of scientific evidence amassed over 25 years continues to support the safety and efficacy of Colgate Total," company spokesman Thomas DiPiazza said.
Procter and Gamble eliminated triclosan from its products before the FDA announced its ban.