Toothpaste isn't what it used to be. Whereas for most of us it's a cheap, basic hygiene product, new toothpastes are coming on the market with extravagant medical or beauty claims.
Britain's focus on oral care is rising steadily, and we're expected to be spending £1,203 million on keeping our mouths clean and healthy by 2018. And a new breed of super-toothpaste is emerging, costing up to £100 a tube.
The most expensive toothpaste on the market is Theodent 300 toothpaste, which retails for an eye-watering £67.55 a tube.The company claims that it's "non-toxic" - always nice to know - and that it works to rebuild enamel through the use of a cocoa extract that the company claims can work in the same weay as fluoride. Oh, and it tastes of chocolate.
But is it any good? Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, leads a panel of dentists that evaluates manufacturers' claims. And, he tells the Daily Mail, there's no evidence that the cocoa extract can replace fluoride, meaning that it probably does nothing to prevent decay.
"The price is utterly unjustified - 20 times the cost of a well-researched toothpaste for something fluoride-free," he says. "You'd be better off with a 25p fluoride toothpaste from Tesco."
Many expensive toothpastes contain exactly the same ingredients as cheaper versions - Dr Katz California Breath Plus, which is claimed to eliminate bad breath and which costs £8.95, for example. But according to Carter, it has only two special ingredients: peppermint oil (so at least it tastes nice) and xylitol, which inhibits the growth of bacteria - and which is found in many supermarket own-brands.
Whitening toothpastes have really taken off over the last few years - but are frequently near useless. Research from the Bristol Dental School four years ago found that only Macleans Whitening and Aquafresh Whitening really worked.
One product that does get Dr Carter's thumbs-up is Regenerate Enamel Science toothpaste, which costs £40 from Selfridges. It's claimed to replace enamel by depositing minerals on the surface of the teeth. Studies appear to show it works: "expensive but, with ten years of research and as a unique product on the market, there's a real reason for the premium price," says Carter.
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