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Up From the Dentist's Chair

By: Leslie Benson
Posted: February 3, 2009, from the February 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

With natural oral care ingredients on the rise, brands are also looking into offering more sustainable options in packaging. Sheffield Pharmaceuticals, for example, uses postconsumer recycled materials for cartons and master cases, which by their nature are recyclable. “Use of aluminum tubes is on the rise,” says Sheffield’s Ana de Oliveira, “and there’s a focus by tube manufacturers to offer postconsumer resin tubes.”

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A non-traditional natural and organic-producing bath and body brand, Europe’s Weleda also saw the potential in the teeth whitening segment, and launched Salt Toothpaste with baking soda, aimed at adult consumers who shop at health food stores. “We know sea salt is phenomenal for its cleansing properties against odor and bacteria, and baking soda is a whitener,” says Jennifer Barckley, communication and public relations manager, Weleda North America. “Although we don’t market Salt Toothpaste as a natural whitening product, due to regulations in the naturals/organics segment, it does have cleansing properties that can lead to whitening.”

Tom’s of Maine has also added whitening to its natural line, offering Natural Clean & Gentle Care toothpaste with silica for whitening. Additionally, to target a segment of consumers Laura Brinker, spokeswoman for P&G, calls “mainstream naturals,” Crest launched Nature’s Expressions toothpaste in 2007, which whitens teeth and features natural flavors. However, not every brand has been able to incorporate speed-to-market for whitening products. Some are still in R&D mode.

“Our chemists have embraced the challenge to consider more natural and environmentally friendly alternatives, and during the past two years, we’ve begun gradually incorporating natural ingredients into our OTC oral care line,” says Eriksen of Beyond Dental & Health. “We’ve recently launched a new version of our Pearl White toothpaste in Japan that contains tea tree oil. This product is scheduled for launch in the U.S. market later in 2009.”

The use of natural ingredients in oral care poses challenges to brands as far as flavors and a product’s performance are concerned. “When we’re dealing with bleaching agents, it’s challenging to find natural or organic products that deliver the same kind of results consumers want,” says Stevens of Whiter Image. “So, we’ve been evaluating the types of products we’re using.”

Singular vs. Multiple Claims

According to Eriksen, interest in natural formulas for oral care products and in the whitening market overall will encourage the production of more specialized products rather than additional all-in-one options. “Toothpastes that fight cavities, reduce tartar build-up, prevent plaque and whiten all at the same time will undoubtedly remain on the shelves,” she says, “but we can expect to see more products tailored to singular concerns, be it whitening, hypersensitivity or natural ingredients.”