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Innovation Still Has Teeth In Oral Care

Innovation Still Has Teeth In Oral Care

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Colgate’s Optic White collection remains a favorite with consumers.

Oral care continues to put a smile on consumers’ faces. Dollar revenue gains were recorded across the three main categories of mass market oral care—toothpaste, toothbrushes and mouthwash—although unit sales were down, per recent data from Circana (see chart). Companies in the category—from market leaders to indies—continue to focus NPD on improved formulations and devices designed to deliver healthier, whiter smiles.  

Earlier this year, Colgate-Palmolive unveiled its vegan Colgate Optic White Express Teeth Whitening Pen and Optic White ComfortFit LED Teeth Whitening Kit. The whitening pen, which is available by itself and as one-half of the ComfortFit LED Teeth Whitening Kit, dispenses a vegan, gluten- and sugar-free hydrogen peroxide serum when clicked at the bottom and brushed onto teeth. Once teeth are coated, the ComfortFit LED device is applied. Powered by a smart phone or tablet using Android or iPhone adapters, the lightweight, flexible device conforms to any mouth shape for a comfortable fit. It emits purple light and is low-wave length and high-energy, helping the hydrogen peroxide serum break down targeted stains quickly and effectively.

Similarly, Smile Brilliant introduced Night Out! Dental Stain Concealer. With purple toothpaste all the rage, according to Spate, Smile Brilliant uses Color Science Technology with a water-soluble formula that it maintains works “just like purple shampoo” to neutralize yellow hues.

Another product, HiSmile’s V34 Colour Corrector Serum, has the same effect and has been popularized on Instagram by Kim Kardashian.

Consumers’ wish to add color to their oral care routines presents an opportunity for brands to partner with influencers to make “get ready with me” videos using the amethyst-colored paste, per New York City-based trend tracker, Spate.

Another tooth whitening innovation was rolled out by Cocofloss. Its Cocoshine Whitening Toothpaste uses 3% nano-hydroxyapatite to gently brighten teeth and boost enamel strength in two flavors: Delicious Mint and Lychee Breeze. The company made Inc. Magazine’s 5,000 fastest-growing company list this year.

Colgate recently tapped Ashley Tisdale for a marketing campaign.

Colgate launched Plaque Pro Release toothpaste following market research that showed plaque is the No. 1 reported dental problem in America with as many as 75% of consumers concerned about the issue. 

Market heavyweight Colgate saw a void in the market for such a product that could help keep dental plaque at bay and the entire mouth as healthy as possible between professional cleanings. The brand teamed with actress Ashley Tisdale, and set up a Manhattan pop-up during the summer. Over two days, the brand offered passersby the chance to “come clean” about their oral care.

“Less than one-third of people feel very confident going to the dentist. At Colgate, we are determined to increase those odds by helping people feel more prepared for their appointments so they can be totally honest,” said Salma Kaddouri, integrated marketing and communications lead, Colgate-Palmolive. “With Colgate Total Plaque Pro-Release, we are excited to have a toothpaste that can help people be proactive about their oral health and head into the dentist feeling more confident.”

Colgate Total Plaque Pro Release was made with smart foam technology designed to break down plaque. Unlike other fluoride toothpaste, Colgate says its smart foam technology utilizes a wetter foam that creates smaller bubbles along the gum line and teeth that dissolve and lift away harmful plaque bacteria. Colgate scientists say gingivitis can be reversed and prevented using Plaque Pro Release. The product’s 0.45% stannous fluoride combats gingivitis and cavities. This claim is backed by clinical studies which revealed that at the four-week mark, 12 hours after brushing, there was at least a 50% reduction in bacteria. In a separate study, gingivitis was reduced by 43% when used twice-daily.

“We think that the unique, enhanced stabilization of stannous fluoride combined with the smart foam effectively controls bacteria to help control plaque buildup, and also provide overall gum health,” said Bob D’Ambrogio, senior technical associate, at Colgate.

To combat teeth sensitivity, Tom’s of Maine—another brand in the Colgate-Palmolive family—rolled out Sensitivity + Whitening Fluoride Free Toothpaste. Its amino acid arginine and calcium carbonate complex delivers pain relief within 60 seconds.

Also offering whitening innovation for sensitive teeth is Elims. Founded by cosmetic dentist Dr. Casey Lau, with his wife Belinda, the toothpaste brand is biotech-backed and made with food grade ingredients to fight sensitivity, whiten teeth and remineralize them. Elims uses tubes made from sustainable sugarcane from Brazil to reduce carbon emissions. And it works with Terracycle to dispose of used tubes.

“From a formulation standpoint, we don’t use fluoride,” explained Belinda Lau. “We use nano-hydroxyapatite, which is a natural mineral alternative to fluoride at 10%. We wanted a formulation that was both natural and also clinically effective. All our clinical studies show that on a microscopic level, our toothpaste remineralizes your teeth the same as sodium fluoride. The way that nano hydroxyapatite works is it basically replasters your teeth with what it’s already made of.”

Primal Life has organic oral care products such as toothpaste chews.

Nanohydroxyapatite was invented by NASA in the 1970s.

“When astronauts go into space, they can’t see a dentist. They created this so that astronauts could have really strong teeth like a coat of armor going into all these space missions,” observed Lau. “In the 1980s, a Japanese tooth company bought the patent from NASA, and they’ve been manufacturing this style of toothpaste [since then]. We’re one of the few brands that actually have that.”

The brand also makes what it calls a more sustainable version of popular whitening strips. Elims uses the same ingredient (hydrogen peroxide) embedded in a technology that dissolves. As the strip dissolves, the Elims strip whiten teeth.

Primal Life Organics’ Real White Dental Boost reduces sensitivity, too. It is formulated with nano-hydroxyapatite to make teeth stronger and boost whiteness.

The brand’s Dirty Mouth Gum Drops are made of a detoxifying blend of 11 essential oils to rid the mouth of toxins and impurities found on the teeth’s surface and gums.

Also offering tooth remineralization is CariPro by Brilliant Smile. The brand’s latest innovation is Sustained Release Enamel Armor Remineralization Gel. Similar to a sealant hygienists apply after a professional cleaning, Enamel Armor is gently brushed onto teeth after brushing with toothpaste, preferably at night. Like its name suggests, Enamel Armor helps strengthen weakened enamel, providing lasting relief from tooth sensitivity, according to the company. The vegan gel reportedly repairs micro-fractures and exposed pores as consumers sleep. 

An ancient tradition to clean the entire mouth is experiencing a renaissance. Oil pulling is rising in popularity, according to Spate. Currently, it’s experiencing an average of 116.0K monthly searches and 65.9% year-over-year growth. This ancient ayurvedic technique uses vegetable oil to draw out bacteria from the mouth, including Streptococcus mutans, which can cause cavities and gingivitis.

One of the top-searched brands for this trend is Georganics, according to Spate’s research. The oral care brand offers an oil-pulling mouthwash to remove bacteria and debris between teeth while cleaning the entire mouth.

Mass market mouthwash sales are up 9.7%, according to recent data from Circana.

In September, Listerine partnered with Compound, a Black-founded creative agency that celebrates Black culture, to introduce the Whoa Collection, which offered a limited-edition bottle embellished with artwork designed by visual artist King Saladeen. An accompanying marketing campaign was designed to close the gap in relation to the diversity of dentistry. A live auction of Saladeen’s canvas that inspired the bottle art was held at an event in Brooklyn. A portion of the proceeds from the collection benefited Increasing Diversity in Dentistry, a blossoming nonprofit focused on the development, mentorship and retention of Black dental professionals.

According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 47.2% of adults aged 30 and old have some form of periodontal disease, which can arise from oral hygiene neglect and failure to floss in between teeth where food debris, plaque and tartar can linger.

In honor of National Dental Hygiene Month in October, Listerine released a trio of new mouthwashes targeted to gum health, bad breath and teeth strength. 

Advanced “Clinical Solutions” formulations address top patient concerns like early gum disease, tooth decay and persistent bad breath. The innovations were developed by dentists and hygienists and include Antiseptic Gum Health, Teeth Strength and Breath Defense.

Listerine Clinical Solutions Antiseptic Gum Health offers the brand’s most advanced antiseptic formulation and contains 67% more zinc chloride than Listerine Antiseptic Gum Therapy and Antiseptic Ultraclean.

Teeth Strength is powered by Rapid Fusion Technology, a unique fluoride delivery system that increases fluoride uptake and remineralization to provide a stronger tooth surface. Rapid fusion technology facilitates the release of more calcium and phosphate ions from saliva compared to neutral rinses. Fluoride binds to these ions leading to the formation of fluorapatite—a durable and resistant mineral for stronger teeth.

The brand’s Breath Defense contains a triple action formula backed by clinical studies. Zinc chloride and a proprietary technology neutralize and transform odor molecules while the four essential oils kill bad breath-causing bacteria.

The new product line is available exclusively at Walmart and a national launch in slated for early 2024. 

Burst specializes in high-technology toothbrushes.

The latest creation at Curaprox is the Samba whitening device.

Innovative electric flossers from Slate Flosser and Waterpik are leading the charge for easier, more effective flossing.

Slate Flosser is an electric flosser that combines high-grade floss with 12,000 sonic vibrations a minute. Gum Sweeps remove plaque and bacteria between gums and teeth. The device flosses teeth, stimulates gums and cleans the tongue for complete oral care.

In May, Waterpik expanded its handheld water flosser collection with the new Cordless Slide.

With a collapsible design, the Cordless Slide was created  with two factors in mind—effortless storage and travel. The compact model can be easily stored standing up or laying down, making it perfect for putting in a drawer or packing in a small travel bag. It features a rechargeable lithium-ion battery for up to four weeks of use from a single charge, three precision flossing tips designed to clean the whole mouth, and three pressure settings for a customizable clean. Cordless Slide is also waterproof and can be used in the shower.

More recently, in August, Waterpik rolled out its Sensonic Electric Toothbrush.

Developed with dental professional and consumer input, clinical research and novel technology, the Waterpik Sensonic Toothbrush features advanced sonic technology and a specially designed bristle pattern that hugs the natural contour of tooth surfaces. According to the brand, Waterpik Sensonic is clinically shown to remove up to four times more plaque bacteria than manual brushing in hard-to-reach areas and helps protect against gingivitis, cavities and bad breath.

This year also saw the launch of Burst Oral Care’s Pro Sonic Toothbrush and Curve Sonic Toothbrush. The new tools were six years in the making, according to Co-Founder and President Brittany Stewart.

P&G continues to be a leader in dental care with Oral-B and Crest.

Oral care brands are always striving to make teeth cleaning a more seamless task for children (and their parents).

In March, P&G launched Crest Kids Color Changing Toothpaste. Designed to make brushing fun, the color-changing technology transforms the bubblegum-flavored toothpaste from blue to pink to indicate when it’s time to rinse—and not a moment sooner. This helps kids get a thorough cleaning of their teeth for up to two minutes to prevent cavities. Crest Kids teamed with social media creator Dani Schaffer who represented the product with her son who served as the brand’s “Kid Correspondent.”

In tandem with the release, the brand is rolling out a line of color-changing themed toothbrushes with Oral B.

In August, Crest and Oral B teamed with Jesse Williams for a Back-to-School campaign called “Closing America’s Smile Gap.”

By showcasing their morning and nighttime routines, the campaign is designed to shine a spotlight on kids lacking basic oral care supplies.

For every Oral B or Crest product purchased between August 1 and September 30, the brands donated oral care supplies to a child in need. According to P&G, 44% of children in low-income households brush less than the recommended amount (twice a day). Children in high-income families account for 73% of children who adhere to twice-daily brushing instilled by their parents.

“The basic necessities we take for granted—like a toothbrush, toothpaste and routine dental checkups—can be game-changers for those without access,” said Williams. “I’m proud to partner with Crest and Oral B to help end oral health inequity.”

Brands are also addressing new ways to make oral health more inclusive for those with disabilities.

Curaprox Swiss Premium Oral Care introduced the Samba Toothbrush. It is purportedly the world’s first robotic toothbrush to afford people with disabilities the ease of brushing their teeth effectively and independently. The October launch coincided with National Dental Hygiene Month and Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

Whether using color, flossing innovations or oil pulling to encourage better hygiene habits, oral care brands are drilling home the importance of clean teeth. They are leveraging social media and the power of influencers with candid videos and testimonials that can wonders in getting consumers to sink their teeth into new products.