Doubts over toothpaste claims
Wed, 04 Jul 2012 6:19p.m.
By Samantha Hayes
Australia's consumer watchdog has found that for all the grand claims of advanced whitening technology, many toothpastes don't actually contain the bleaching agent required to change the colour of teeth.
And the Dental Association here agrees there's no hard evidence to back up claims that whitening toothpastes work.
Toothpaste was once made from pulverised bones and crushed oyster shells but now it's a mass marketed pearly white paste. And for all the advertising spin it's essentially made up of the same ingredients.
“[It’s] fluoride and then a form of mild abrasive to remove the particles between your teeth and then foaming agents and sweeteners,” says Choice spokesperson Ingrid Just.
The Australian consumer watchdog Choice studied 17 toothpastes - many also available here - and found people were forking out more for advanced whitening, when the toothpastes don't contain hydrogen peroxide, the chemical a dentist would use to whiten your teeth.
“You don’t need to go for the whitening toothpaste, there is no bleaching agent. It’s only going to remove surface level stains but it’s not going to bleach your teeth,” says Ms Just.
In the fine print toothpaste manufacturers argue it's that removal of surface stains that whitens the teeth.
But the advice from consumer advocates is to simply consider the cheaper option.
“You can spend an extra $2 or $3 when it’s relatively unnecessary to do so.”
Ninety percent of toothpastes are made by Colgate, Palmolive and Glaxo-Smith-Kline which weren't available to comment on the marketing claims.
The New Zealand Dental Association says there's no hard evidence to prove whitening toothpastes work.
“I’m yet to see any robust peer reviewed research that demonstrates that, but on the other hand I’ve certainly seen a lot of anecdotal evidence with patients that come to me and tell me these products are effective,” says Graham Symes of the New Zealand Dental Association.
But that could simply be down to better and more frequent brushing - motivated by the purchase of expensive toothpaste.
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