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The Rise of Toothpaste Bioadhesives

Unbeknownst to most, there has been a quiet revolution in the toothpaste industry with the advent of a new class of ingredients known as bioadhesives.


I don't blame you if you've never heard of it because the various oral care product manufacturers don't necessarily advertise it nor do they even talk about it... Despite the incredibly benefits that it has on your teeth and gums.


Why don't they? I'm actually not quite sure of the reason myself but they're definitely in some of the more premium toothpastes. What they're not shy about is asking for a price premium for this new ingredient!


Benefits of bioadhesives for toothpastes

Bioadhesives are considered as a biodegradable "drug delivery" apparatus that enhances the effect of other toothpaste ingredients. I like to consider it as an exponentiator of other ingredients.


Examples of bioadhesives:


pronamel intensive enamel repair label

Bioadhesive benefits:

  • Adhesive. You can think of them as a sticky glue that helps toothpaste ingredients stick to the surfaces of your teeth.

  • Enhancer. Allowing toothpaste ingredients to stick to your teeth will permit a longer working time thus making them more effective.

  • Biodegradable. Does not need to be removed as they naturally break down in the oral environment.


This is very important if you put the way toothpastes work and interact with the oral environment into context.

  • Toothpastes exert a topical effect in that they work and produce results when they're in contact with the teeth.

  • Unfortunately we only brush for a mere 2 minutes and after that, the naturation production of saliva will wash away and dilute any residual ingredients on our teeth and gums.


However, with a bioadhesive in the mix, beneficial ingredients such as fluoride and desensitizers can stay on your teeth for longer thus exerting their beneficial effects for a longer period of time.


Essentially it exponentiates the protective and beneficial effects of other ingredients!


 

There are bioadhesives in toothpastes

Perhaps you're not aware of this new class of toothpaste ingredients because they're classified as an inactive ingredient but they're definitely there if you look closely.


Colgate Total
Colgate Total

Take Colgate as an example: Their entry level product are the regular colgate toothpastes but the next step up would be their colgate total product. However, they've recently released an even newer toothpaste called the Colgate Total Pro Plaque Release and yes, this one does have a bioadhesive (PVM/MA copolymer).


colgate total pro plaque release bioadhesive toothpaste
colgate total pro plaque release

Another example would be the Sensodyne toothpastes. A lot of their products do contain a bioadhesive, particularly their Pronamel Intensive Enamel Repair which is their crown jewel.


pronamel intensive enamel repair
pronamel intensive enamel repair

The way that toothpaste intensively repairs your teeth is mostly due to the inclusion of PVM/MA copolymer which is a bioadhesive. Although if you look at their labeling on the tube, on the box, and on their website, they don't give explicit credit to this new ingredient. In other words, they don't really tell you how it helps intensively repair your teeth.


 

The price premium

While manufacturers don't explicitly talk about these bioadhesives, they certainly don't shy away from charging a price premium for them. Yes, toothpastes with this ingredient will cost more than your average run of the mill product.


Toothpaste costs:

  • Colgate max fresh - $4 (6.3oz)

  • Colgate total - $5 (5.1oz)

  • Colgate total pro plaque release - $6 (3oz)

  • Pronamel intensive enamel repair - $8.50 (3.4oz)


This ingredient definitely jacks up the prices when included in toothpastes. If you just take a look at the way Colgate prices it, there is a step up in each product level as well as a decrease in product size. If you take into account price per oz, the price premium is very real.


 

Is it worth it?

In my professional opinion as a dentist, I do think these bioadhesives in toothpastes are worth it. Once again, I consider the advent of it as a quiet revolution in oral care.


You may have thought that toothpastes have remained unchanged for the past few decades, you couldn't have been more wrong!


As of the moment, my recommendation for the best OTC fluoride toothpaste would be the Sensodyne pronamel intensive enamel repair. No other toothpaste comes close to it in terms of cavity prevention.

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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