Could it be that the consumer appetite for all things natural is beginning to influence the marketing and formulations in the Oral Care category? This thought entered my mind recently as I saw the following natural oral care claim on a popular brand of mouthwash:
“…with three of its four active ingredients being derived from plant sources (Eucalyptus, Cornmint and Oil of Wintergreen)”
The parent compounds Eucalyptol, Menthol, and Methyl Salicylate are essential oils or derivatives of essential oils which meet the monograph requirements for oral antiseptic drug products for over-the-counter use. Since these are all plant-derived, the manufacturer embraced the opportunity to make the ‘naturals’ connection and aims to assure the consumer that efficacy has not been affected, by the asserting that the product is an “equally effective, 99% natural formula”.
Further research into this trend revealed ingredients listed on Prospector that are both described as ‘natural’ and appropriate for oral care applications. Consider for example, the following entries:
- Myrica Cerifera (Bayberry) Bark extract (in various solvents) – “commonly used in mouthwashes and toothpastes”
- Erylite® (Erythritol) – “humectant properties are especially revealed in oral care products such as toothpaste”
Natural oral care through the ages
While this appears to be an emerging trend in the modern world, natural approaches to oral care have been employed by various cultures for centuries. The use of chewing sticks is a natural oral hygiene practice that was recorded as far back as 7000 BC by the Babylonians and is still being practiced today in some parts of Africa, South America, the Middle East and Asia1.
Chewing sticks are known by different names depending on the region, but are very commonly referred to as Miswak. Chewing sticks are twigs from various trees that are used as herbal brushes to clean and protect the teeth. Plants endemic to a particular region have traditionally been used as the source by those populations. For example, in India the stem and branches of the Neem tree are used to provide chewing sticks, while in West Africa parts of the lime tree and citrus tree are used for this purpose1.
Several studies have indicated that Miswak contain substances that inhibit plaque and gingivitis, have an anti-fungal effect and are also effective against periodontal pathogenic bacteria, cariogenic bacteria and endodontic pathogens3. Based on the results these studies, one can understand why the use of chewing sticks has endured through the years.
Effective oral care is a universal consumer priority, and the technologies that deliver healthy teeth and gums and fresh breath will always be in demand. Given the current interest in all things natural, there is a high likelihood that we will begin to see a proliferation of oral care products in the marketplace that are based on natural ingredients.
- Muhammad and M. T. Lawal, Oral Hygiene and the use of plants. Accepted 2 July, 2010; Scientific Research and Essays Vol. 5(14), pp. 1788-1795, 18 July, 2010 [PDF]
- Almas, K. The antimicrobial effects of extracts of Azadirachta indica (Neem) and Salvadora persica (Arak) chewing sticks. Indian J. Dent. Res. 1999; 10 (1):23-26.
- Adnan Sukkarwalla, Salima Mehboob Ali, Pranee Lundberg, and Farzeen Tanwir: Efficacy of Miswak on Oral Pathogens. Dent Res J (Isfahan)2013 May-Jun; 10(3): 314 -320. doi: 10.4103/1735-3327.115138
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3 Responses to “That Naturally Fresh Feeling: The Concept of ‘Natural’ as applied to Oral Care”
Nice write up Priscilla. Thank you. What types of preservatives are commonly used in “natural” oral care products?
Interesting piece, thank you.
nice timely article for me…
what type of natural red colors for toothpastes exist