Oral health: Natural products rising and good-for-your teeth sweets

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15 May 2018 --- In line with the personal care market, oral health products are increasingly marketing themselves from a natural positioning, as well as a cosmetic one. “Beauty from within” claims all contribute to a more holistic understanding of wellbeing and consumers are increasingly looking to inherent health benefits from natural ingredients which convey better-for-you appeal. NutritionInsight covers a range of innovative products and suppliers tapping into the tooth-care market. When it comes to teeth, more than a shiny, white veneer is the goal: strong teeth and a healthy mouth – chemically free –  are in demand. 

Natural products crossing over into oral health care
Yohan Rolland, Global Category Manager for Naturex, speaks to NutritionInsight about the present day market: “We have a complete analysis of the market that predicts that very soon consumers will ask for natural solutions for oral care products. They don’t know what the active molecules in toothpaste are exactly, but they know that they are chemical.”

“The market is in great need of a natural, earth-friendly solution. Naturex, as the global leader in plant-based natural ingredients, is in a perfect position to anticipate this market trend.”

Naturex offer Bucovia, “an active ingredient for healthcare products. Its innovative positioning is that it is not a biocide, but it is an active that balances the natural microbiota of the mouth.”

Having a healthy mouth requires the right balance of endogenous bacteria and fungi, including Candida albicans. If this balance is upset, endogenous microbiota can undergo uncontrolled overgrowth and colonization by opportunistic pathogens, responsible for gum disease and other infections. Current solutions include biocides (antiseptic or antibiotic), which are synthetic ingredients that wipe out both good and bad mouth bacteria and increase the virulence of Candida.

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Yohan Rolland,
Global Category Manager for Naturex

“Professional dentists say the use of products that kill everything in the mouth is not good for oral health. In fact, these products should only be used for a short time, perhaps several consecutive days a week. Whereas Bucovia can be used every day, as it respects the normal balance of the mouth and microbiota.”

“Natural ingredients will explode for dental health as it has in skin care and body care. Oral care is the third part of the cosmetics industry, and we have previously seen that some trends can go from skin care to hair care, and I’m sure it will follow to oral care.” 

Rolland points to the market landscape as a place to search for signals of the trend. Interestingly, he notes, some of the biggest names have already tapped into the trend. Colgate, for example, has recently promoted five new kinds of toothpaste that hold front-of-pack claims of “natural extracts.”

Furthermore, Rolland notes the company Zendium who is the first brand to claim natural oil actives by using enzymes and proteins from milk and animals in it's toothpaste. The brand has done well, Rolland states. So now, Naturex feel it is promoting it's active, natural ingredient at “just the right time.” NutritionInsight reached out to Colgate and Zendium for comments.

Traditional methods appealing to consumers
Arguably reflecting a ready space for natural oral care products is the recent spike in popularity of an ancient technique: Oil pulling.

Oil pulling is a traditional folk remedy practiced in ancient India, which has recently grown in popularity outside of India as people turn to traditional practices. In essence, a spoonful of, typically, refined coconut oil (commonly sunflower and sesame too) is swilled around the mouth for a period of time. The oil is said to activate enzymes in the saliva, and thus absorb chemical, bacterial and environmental toxins. The oil is then discarded of leaving the mouth, and in theory the body, purified and detoxified.

As a result of an unpleasant experience or simply personal desire, consumers are turning toward new products: “Many mucosal disease patients react to some of the flavoring agents and to ingredients in toothpaste and mouthwash. We have seen some increase in mucosal disease states such as lichen planus that is a cell-mediated immune response,” Dr. Nancy W. Burkhart, Associate Professor of the Department of Periodontics, College of DentistryClick to Enlarge, Texas A&M University, tells NutritionInsight.

In this way, “individuals are trying new things, and often report less dryness and a more clean, whitened feel with the teeth after oil pulling.”

“In general, when you can limit ingredients and use a more natural approach, people’s oral health can do better. For instance, we sometimes recommend children’s toothpaste to those with irritated tissues: it’s really just more natural, with less flavoring agents and additives.”

“I believe as consumers react to various products like this, manufacturers modify their lines,” Burkhart adds. 

With the rise in reputation of coconut oil and oral health, US-based company Cocofloss has created a dental floss infused with coconut oil and vegan wax; tapping into a potentially burgeoning market.

NPD of tooth-friendly sweeteners 
According to the World Health Organization, more than 60 percent of school children worldwide suffer from dental cavities. This number could perhaps see a reduction if the use of tooth-friendly sweeteners overtook sugar.

Consumer attitudes towards sugar have changed markedly over the past years. In the food and drink industry, reducing sugar content with the heightened use of sweeteners and natural alternatives has become a top priority for food innovators and manufacturers. Due to developments in the sector, treats such as hard candies and even chewing gum are even touting dental health claims.

Isomaltulose, the chemical name for Beneo’s Palatinose, is the only nutritive sweetener derived exclusively from beet sugar, with a mild, sugar-like taste. Due to its low hygroscopicity, it is an ideal sugar substitute for a multitude of applications; e.g. in confectionary or dry and soft baked goods.

Isomalt also holds tooth friendly status. It stands accordingly with the EU health claim, “…contributes to the maintenance of tooth mineralization” and the FDA health claim, “does not promote tooth decay.”

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Beneo's hard candies

“The tooth friendliness of Isomalt is a result of its high microbiological stability which is caused by the enzymatic rearrangement of the alpha-1,2 bond between the glucose and fructose molecule in the raw material, sucrose, producing a more stable alpha-1,6 bond,” a Beneo spokesperson tells NutritionInsight.

“This bond cannot be split by the bacteria present in the mouth and so tooth-damaging acids are not produced.”

DuPont offer XIVIA, from the Dansico range of sweeteners, which is a naturally occurring sweetener derived from xytlitol. When manufactured into a chewing gum, it's proven to reduce the development of cavities, resist fermentation of oral bacteria, reduce plaque formation, increase saliva flow and complement the effect of fluoride. 

Furthermore, the XIVIA sweetener is produced sustainably with industrial wood pulp side-streams, originating from renewable forestry. Its carbon footprint is 90 percent lower than conventional biomass hydrolysis production of xylitol. The product gives manufacturers the option of tapping into the oral health market, while also touting a fully sustainable product.

XIVIA's applications range from confectionary to chewing gum, and also include oral hygiene products such as toothpaste, mouthwash and teething gels.

Alongside innovative products, simple nutrition can play a role in oral health. Experts at the University of Rochester Medical Center assert that saliva stimulation can help coat the teeth in minerals, which are protective. Aside from chewing sugarless gum, the ingestion of fibrous fruits and vegetables are good ways to induce saliva. About 20 minutes after you eat something containing sugars or starches, your saliva begins to reduce the effects of the acids and enzymes attacking your teeth. Because saliva contains traces of calcium and phosphate, it also restores minerals to areas of teeth that have lost them from the bacterial acids.

Cheese, yogurt and other dairy products also contain calcium and phosphates to strengthen the teeth, and green and black teas contain substances that help to suppress harmful oral bacteria. Both contain polyphenols that interact with plaque bacteria and these substances either kill or hold back bacteria. This prevents them from growing or producing acid that attacks teeth. Depending on the type of water you use to brew your tea, a cup of tea can also be a source of fluoride.

In conclusion, there may be a burgeoning market for natural oral health care products, falling into both healthy and cosmetic categories. Similarly, sweeteners that can tout tooth friendly claims will appeal to consumers who are constantly searching for good-for-you claims in their food.

By Laxmi Haigh

To contact our editorial team please email us at editorial@cnsmedia.com

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