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Microbeads have been found in all sorts of personal care products, including toothpaste. The microbeads are made of plastic - the same plastic as in a grocery or trash bag.(Photo: Procter & Gamble)

That's what a television investigative team found in Chicago.  Dentists and dental hygienists
started noticing tiny bits of plastic stuck in people's gums. They turned out to be microbeads,
tiny plastic beads that are not biodegradable, and are so small, they slip through water filtration
systems.

What are microbeads?

Microbeads are found in all sorts of personal hygiene products, including toothpaste. They're made of polyethlene or polypropylene - the same ingredient that makes up plastic grocery bags. Polyethylene Microbeads are FDA approved as a food additive and could be found in chewing gum and toothpaste.

Procter & Gamble makes Crest toothpaste that has microbeads in it - Crest ProHealth & 3D White. The company promised to make the toothpaste "microbead free" within six months, and has been fielding hundreds of calls from upset consumers.

"The Council will continue to monitor and evaluate new scientific information on this issue as it becomes available." a statement on the American Dental Association website reads. "In the meantime, the ADA recommends that individuals continue to follow the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) recommendations on the use of dental health care products."

Illinois is the first state to ban products with microbeads in them. Companies have until 2017 to phase out the use.

Scientists say the tiny plastic beads slip through filtration systems, and end up in the water supply. Fish eat them, and people end up consuming plastic as a result.

They also say the plastic beads are collecting out in the oceans, adding to the plastic pollution that creates floating plastic islands.

How to tell if microbeads are in your products?

Look for inactive ingredients: polyethlene or polypropylene.

There's also an app that can scan a product's bar code and alert you to the microbeads.

What if I already bought toothpaste with the microbeads?

Crest has been answering questions on its Facebook page. They're also telling people to call their hotline to discuss refunds: (800) 285-9139 (M-F, 8am-5pm CDT)