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Triclosan in Toothpaste: Good or Bad?

Toothpaste manufacturer, Colgate-Palmolive, recently removed triclosan, an antibacterial compound from their toothpaste, and it has not as yet been decided whether it will be banned for good.

The popular, antibacterial Colgate Total was recently reformulated into Colgate Total SF. The new version of the toothpaste is advertised to be a better formula altogether, but as it turns out, the re-branding was mostly to accommodate the removal of triclosan from future products.

What is Triclosan?

Triclosan was developed in the 1960s.

It is an antibacterial and antifungal agent found in many popularly used products, including toothpaste, soaps, detergents, toys and surgical cleaning treatments. It is similar in its uses and mechanism of action to triclocarban, explains Wikipedia.

Triclosan’s efficacy is still under investigation. And the jury is still out on whether or not it works as an antimicrobial agent and if there is a risk of antimicrobial resistance. Triclosan could possibly also play a role in disrupted hormonal development in organisms and environmental health.

The FDA announced that effective from September 2017, it would no longer endorse the sale of “consumer antiseptic washes” containing triclosan. There were also 18 other ingredients marketed as antimicrobials taken off the shelves, due to FDA findings regarding the lack of efficacy in these products.

Why remove it?

According to, triclosan kills bacteria, but it’s also been found to cause gut inflammation and endocrine disruption in animal studies. However, when it comes to toothpaste, the FDA said the potential benefits of triclosan outweighed the risks — a decision that baffled some scientists and consumers when it was made in 2017.

The use of triclosan has been linked to many ailments, such as abnormal endocrine system/thyroid hormone signalling and the weakening of the immune system.

Mighty Nest reports that children exposed to antibacterial products at an early age have an increased chance of developing allergies, asthma and eczema.