We explain why the oral care category is one community pharmacists should seriously get their teeth into

According to the Oral Health Foundation, consumers are taking better care of their teeth and gums. These days, 62% of Brits clean between their teeth regularly, that’s three times more than in 2007, when that figure was at a lowly 19%. So, in the consumer quest for a gleaming Hollywood smile and healthy set of teeth, what are the latest developments in the OTC oral care sector?

Toothpaste is still a top seller in the category, says John Drake, head of convenience at Procter & Gamble (P&G): “Pharmacists need to merchandise based on category and product penetration levels and, given toothpaste has more than 90% penetration in the UK, they need a ready supply of it. The lion’s share of space in this category is given over to toothpaste, so you should stock accordingly,” he explains.

Whiter than white
According to P&G, the health and whitening toothpaste segments are the fastest growing in the UK. “Consumers are increasingly demanding a whiter smile, so this represents a great opportunity for community pharmacists to grow their oral care sales,” maintains Drake. In response, P&G has extended its Oral-B 3D White range with a selection of clinically proven whitening products, including the new and improved Oral-B 3D White Luxe Perfection toothpaste and Oral-B 3D White Whitestrips. A move to higher-end, premium products has meant an increase in sales for electric toothbrushes. Drake adds: “Electric toothbrushes are also growing in popularity thanks to the ‘premiumisation’ trend and we have two of the most innovative products in the category - the Oral-B Genius and Oral-B PRO600 3D White. “The new Oral-B Genius power toothbrush is our most intelligent brush available and features ground-breaking position detection technology that combines cutting-edge motion sensors and video recognition via a smartphone camera to track areas so no zone is missed.”

Natural selection
Are plastic toothbrushes a thing of the past? Mahi Naturals launched its biodegradable Woobamboo toothbrushes in January 2017 and they have been well-received in pharmacies as a natural alternative to oral care. So far Mahi Naturals has been focusing on distributing the product in London and the South East, where they say most pharmacies that stock natural products have taken and re-ordered them. The range currently includes bamboo toothbrushes for children, adults and pets and a biodegradable floss. The bamboo used is sustainable, biodegradable and organic, with packaging produced from recycled and recyclable materials.

Meghna Patel, director of Mahi Naturals Ltd, explains that 150m plastic toothbrushes are discarded every year in the UK. “Toothbrushes are made up of plastic, rubber and nylon, none of which are biodegradable, so they end up in landfills and oceans where they remain indefinitely or are consumed by marine life,” she says. “Woobamboo provides an eco-friendly alternative to everyday dental products and responds to the increasing eco-conscious UK market, while providing top efficacy.” Pharmacies stocking Woobamboo receive free point-of-sale materials, including posters, merchandisers, shelf-edgers, wobblers and children’s stickers. Later this year, the brand will also be launching adult and children’s toothpastes. The range is available from Jumla, GD Cooper and CLF Wholesalers and at www.woobamboo.co.uk.

In a nutshell
Multi-use coconut oil has long been rumoured to benefit the skin, digestive system, hormone health and even immunity, but now coconut producers, Cocofina, say it also promotes oral health. Brand manager, Scott Wright, explains: “For centuries coconut oil has been used for oil pulling (rinsing) and general oral hygiene. If you swish a small amount of oil around the mouth for two to three minutes daily, it is proven as being naturally antibacterial and anti-fungal to aid healthy gum maintenance and flush out nasty bacteria.”

Cocofina launched its 10ml travel sachet of its organic, cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil in November 2015. The Brush-Baby Mums and Gums Survey conducted by One-Poll recently quizzed 1,000 UK mothers of 0-6 year-olds. Key results found that 72% of mums have never seen gum care information for babies and 94% believe that either GPs, health visitors or dentists are best placed to provide baby oral care advice. Such results mean there are opportunities for pharmacists to improve their oral welfare offering for children. The Brush-Baby oral care brand provides a range of specialist gum wipes, teether toothbrushes, toddler brushes and toothpastes for under sixes.

Brushing up
Another recent poll by the Oral Health Foundation to promote last June’s National Smile Month reveals that more than one in three people use interdental brushes, beating floss for the first time. The poll shows that 34% of UK adults use interdental brushes to clean in between their teeth, compared to 31% who use traditional floss. Other methods include floss tape (17%), floss harps (12%) and waterjets (7%), for example, the Phillips AirFloss.

The Swedish oral hygiene company, TePe, remains the top selling interdental brush brand in the UK. TePe brushes reach the gaps between the teeth and below the gum line and remove plaque, which causes gingivitis, cavities and bad breath. TePe also offers the EasyPick, an ergonomicallydesigned pick, which removes trapped food and plaque. Elaine Tilling, head of clinical education at TePe UK, explains: “Interdental brushes have become increasingly popular over the years, with patients finding them much easier to use than floss. They are simple and effective and ensure plaque removal from between the teeth where the toothbrush simply cannot reach. Most dental disease starts in the area between the teeth and so it is really important to clean these areas daily.”

Gum health
GSK launched its new Corsodyl website (www.corsodyl.co.uk) at the end of June. It is packed with information about gum disease and gum care that pharmacists can use as a reference tool. For example, there are articles about how to treat gum disease (www.corsodyl.co.uk/advice/howto- treat-gum-disease) and its causes (www. corsodyl.co.uk/gum-disease/causes). There is also a gum health test to help patients understand the symptoms of gum disease at www.corsodyl.co.uk/corsodyl-gumhealth- test. Ben Court, shopper marketing manager oral health, consumer healthcare at GSK says: “We are very excited to launch the new Corsodyl website, as it contains information about the whole range, including our newest product, Corsodyl Ultra Clean toothpaste, which we launched earlier this year.” GSK also launched Sensodyne Rapid Relief toothpaste to soothe pain from sensitive teeth in June.

The field team will be out and about explaining to community pharmacists the science behind Sensodyne Rapid Relief and how it provides fast relief to pharmacists throughout September. They will also be providing 15ml samples and point-of-sale materials to pharmacies.


TOP TIPS FOR WHITER TEETH

• Limit coffee, tea, red wine and blue-veined cheese. Copper rods are used in the cheese ageing process, which can increase bacteria and staining
• Eat strawberries.The malic acid in strawberries is reported to work as an astringent on the tooth surface removing surface stains and whitening the teeth
• Choose a stain removal toothpaste. Pharmacists can stock products that contain calcium carbonate, silica, sand, quartz, mica, silicon dioxide, trisodium phosphate and tetrapotassium pyrophosphate/tetrasodium pyrophosphate
• Use interdental brushes. Brushing with a standard toothbrush misses 40% of teeth surfaces and stains are attracted to rough surfaces that build up on the teeth if they are not cleaned effectively.

(Source: Elaine Tilling, head of clinical education at TePe UK)

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