Trends and Innovations in Oral Care

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According to a report by Technavio, the Global Oral care market is poised to reach US $ 9.29 billion by 2023. The drivers for this growth include the demand from consumers for a variety of products focused on different oral health concerns and resulting innovations. Dr Vivek Vinayak Patwardhan, a professional who has spent decades in formulating and developing Oralcare products updates readers on opportunities in the segment.

The biggest concerns regarding oral health reported by consumers include Plaque, Tartar, Cavity, Gum problems, Bad Breath, Enamel erosion, tooth discolouration and last but not the least  Tooth Sensitivity.

  • PLAQUE – Plaque is caused by bacteria build-up on teeth, which starts to accumulate within 60 minutes after eating. If you don’t brush it away, the bacteria can lead to tooth decay as well as tartar and gum problems. 
  • TARTAR – When plaque mineralises on teeth, it hardens and turns into tartar and needs to be removed by a dental professional using specialist tools. 
  • CAVITIES – Cavities occur when sugars and starches are in continual contact with teeth leading to the formation of plaque which allows bacteria to thrive and release acid that breaks down enamel. 
  • GUM PROBLEMS – Gum problems develop when plaque bacteria accumulate and release toxic substances. If left untreated, this can lead to tooth loss and more serious gum problems.
  • BAD BREATH – Bad breath can be caused by eating foods with a pronounced odour, but essentially the problem is caused by bacteria in the mouth. There are about 500-600 types of bacteria in an average mouth. 
  • ENAMEL EROSION – Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, but daily exposure to acids in fruits and drinks can wear away at its surface, resulting in enamel erosion. 
  • SENSITIVITY – Dentin, the inner layer of the tooth, contains microscopic hollow tubes that run from the outside of the tooth to the nerve. When dentin loses its protective covering the tubes allow hot and cold, acidic or sweet foods to stimulate the nerves inside the tooth, and that’s what causes the discomfort. 
  • DISCOLORATION – Surface stains can build up from smoking, drinking and eating, resulting in tooth discolouration.

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Periodontitis- Signs and Symptoms

  • Gums that bleed during and after tooth brushing
  • Red, swollen or tender gums
  • Persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth
  • Receding gums
  • Formation of deep pockets between teeth and gums
  • Loose or shifting teeth
  • Changes in the way teeth fit together on biting, or in the fit of partial dentures

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Innovation and Trends in Oral Care Category

  • Innovation is vital to drive the growth and success of any brand in today’s competitive market place. Technology, the consumer’s changing preferences and market trends are crucial for any innovation to happen. Consumers desire attributes like Breath Freshening, Germ Protection and Cavity fighting in their toothpaste. Clean taste, Smooth and Clean mouth feel on the teeth along with nice cool minty taste gives an overall refreshing feel. Another attribute which consumer looks for is this refreshing feeling should last for a longer time – at least till the next meal or drink.
  • Cool and Fresh: Sensory receptors respond to stimuli and transmits the information to the brain. These receptors are Thermoreceptors, Mechanoreceptors, Pain receptors, Chemoreceptors etc. These receptors get stimulated by certain coolants which stimulate thermoreceptors (TRPM8) in oral mucosa, tongue and skin. The cooling sensation then reaches the brain via dorsal nerve where it is perceived and recognized. Most of the latest launches are based on this technology. These coolants creates sensational bursting cooling and long-lasting cooling, attracting younger consumers.  Similarly, there are few ingredients which can give hot sensation while brushing. Combination of cooling and warming give a sensational mouthfeel. Innovation in tingling sensation while brushing or in mouth wash is another trend in the oral care category.
  • Remineralisation of Tooth enamel: Thanks to the depleting level of water in the ground, fluoride content in the water is rising and thus the demand for low fluoride oral care or Flouride free is rising. This is because of some reports that say excess Flouride leads to softening of the enamel making it hyper-sensitive, discoloured, scarred and brittle. Demineralisation happens due to acid formation in the mouth. Toothpaste formulation contains actives which remineralise, demineralised tooth enamel. These actives increase the salivation in the mouth which increases the calcium and phosphate ions in the oral cavity. It also hydrates which gives comfort and soothing effect.
  • Whitening is the latest trend and it goes hand in hand with the concept of the SMILE. Consumers are looking towards nature-based ingredients like charcoal and Bamboo toothbrush in Oral care. Laser Dentistry is also used for whitening, removing tooth decay, reshaping gums and removing bacteria.
  • Plant Extracts: Herbal formulations with ingredients like Perilla seed extract, Licorice are increasingly getting more popular. Perilla seed extract, for example, is an antibacterial while liquorice has been found effective in inhibiting the growth of cavity-causing bacteria associated with periodontitis. These ingredients also give the whitening effect naturally. Charcoal based toothpaste helps in removing malodour. It also helps in the detoxifying oral cavity
  • Sensitivity is one of the major concern in the Oral Care category. Many companies have launched Sensitivity Tooth Paste. Leading one are GSK, Colgate Palmolive, Unilever etc. GSK has launched “Repair and Protect” Formula with “Novamin” Technology. It helps in Remineralisation to treat Sensitivity. It helps in slow release of Calcium, Phosphate and Flouride ions which eventually forms “Fluroapetitie” within 8-12 hrs. to Rebuild, Strengthen and Protect tooth surface. There are many actives used by different brands like Potassium Nitrate, Strontium Chloride and Strontium Acetate, Stannous Flouride to Protect Sensitivity.
  • Technology Evolution in Oral hygiene is growing at a faster pace today. Using Technology in Maldour suppression between malodour components and certain flavouring actives is getting popular.
  • Personalising Oral care is the key to targeting consumers particularly relevant products for key demographics. Sugar and Acid naturally weaken enamel leading to tooth decay. It is quite prevalent worldwide. Now the Antisugar claims are made on the pack by the leading players.
  • Combine Flavour with aromatherapeutic ingredients to change the Moods. A formulation that can increase the serotonin level which is responsible for secreting happy hormones and thereby relives Stress and anxiety. Combining Ayurvedic or Natural actives and Natural flavours are revolutionizing the Oral care segment. Flavour also in combination of fragrances gives a different sensorial in Oral care products. Day and Night toothpaste can be developed on this concept.

    Few more trends are mentioned below –

    • Prebiotic toothpaste is one more trend which helps in reducing acid refluxes and helps indigestion. It also helps in killing bad bacteria present in the mouth cavity.
    • Cosmosphere cellulose beads which can be loaded with active ingredients to enhances their delivery along with aesthetic optical effects. Microbeads of Rice, Apricot, walnut, Pecan shells, Bamboo, Silica beads are used in the formulations. Oats and salt beads are used to enhance the aesthetics of the oral care product. These are ‘green solutions’
    • Tooth Polish like Nail Polish
    • Bath bombs – Crème de Mento Mouth Wash Tablet by LUSH – it fizzes like a mini bath bomb on the tip of the tongue. It refreshes teeth and gums.
    • Colour correcting Toothpaste brightens tooth by using FDA approved colour Red 33 and Purple 1 colourants which creates Signature Purple Formula. This reduces yellow dental Stains. It is in combination with Colour correcting toothpaste Toner for Oral rinse helps to whiten, brightening polish along with clean teeth and freshening the breath.
    • Ayurvedic ingredient-based toothpaste also getting popular not only in our country but also in the global market. Few ingredients which are very popular in oral care preparations are Fennel seed, Cinnamon, Acacia Gum, Ginger, Eucalyptus, Turmeric, Nettle, Tomar seed, Pipplai, Dry Ginger, Black Pepper, Mint, Myhr, Sage, Clove, Neem, Tulsi, Babool etc. Natural mouthwashes with Vegetable juices and their colours like Red Cabbage, Purple Carrot Beet, Tomato are getting popular.
    • Natural sweetening agents like Vegetable Glycerin, Stevia, Xylitol – Natural sugar from Birch tree and they are clinically proven to prevent tooth decay and other gum diseases.
    • Kids Toothpaste with different Natural fruity flavours is a growing trend. Kids are looking for customized flavour which can create excitement. Oral Care routines are shaped for the younger age group to inculcate better habits. Claims with fortified Vitamins and Minerals are getting popular among the children.
    • Smart Apps are used for Performance Monitoring and Solar Power Chargers in Tooth Brushes. Video Toothbrushes and Camera are the emerging technologies which can track Brushing and flossing efficacy. Oral B+ launched a Powerful Tooth Brush Technology with Blue Tooth which provides a customized guide for Personal Oral Care.
    • Claims In Tooth Paste with Health Care benefits by using Smart Ingredients are a factor in for Novel Formats. Consumers are looking forward to getting multiple benefits like Health and Cosmetic Benefit like Cleaning and Polishing or Whitening and Sensitivity.

New Launches

  • Sensodyne True White – new launch claims whitening along with Tooth Sensitivity. It claims 10 times less abrasiveness than the leading whitening toothpaste.
  • Oral B2 (Oral B HD Daily two Step Gum Care) is the most expansive 2-Step Product Brand in China with focuses on Gum Care and Whitening, It’s Retails price is RMB 160
  • Colgate Total Proof has launched with New active Foam Technology that turns white to blue as it cleans to break up plaque and fights Bacteria.
  • Plaque HD uses Tegetol Technology that binds Plaque and turns it till green till it gets removed

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Conclusion –  The Oral Care market has a huge potential for double-digit growth in an emerging market like India. Indian Brands with the new mantra of “ Atma Nirbhar Bharat” and “ Vocal for Local” as propagated by our PM stand to advantage, given the huge heritage of nature-based ingredients. What we need is appealing packaging, and market promotion in line with cosmetics and skincare to elevate the Oral Care segment from a routine product to an aspirational one. We need to add aspects of sustainability and biodegradability to appeal to consumers.

Author: Dr Vivek Vinayak Patwardhan– PhD, MBA and Doctorate in Naturopathy.

Dr Vivek Patwardhan retired from Anchor Consumer Products Pvt. Ltd. as Vice President–R&D. Currently, he continues as the Head of R&D  (Consultant) in the same company.