Toothpaste ingredients go the natural route

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Skin care has been the big flag bearer in the trend for natural cosmetics but a rash of natural ingredients for toothpaste suggests that oral care is catching up.

Two of the most recent toothpaste ingredients to come to light include an extract of Salvadora persica and another which is produced from the ground shell of a mollusk originating from the Philippines called Halaan.

The Halaan shell is actually a significant source of food in the Philippines, but a researcher at the country’s Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College claims that her work could lead to the development of a new natural toothpaste ingredient.

Dr. Bernardita Lauron explained to online publication that purified lime from ground Halaan shells was formulated with castle soap, distilled water, peppermint oil, glycerine, guym tragacanth and sodium fluoride before being tested against commercial toothpaste brands.

Halaan shell extract

The researcher tested the toothpaste formula on a ten member panel and found that the Halaan shell extract toothpaste offered the same kind of quality and consumer preference as the commercially available alternatives.

Dr. Lauron is hoping that the Halaan shell extract will offer commercial toothpaste formulators a viable alternative ingredient that is sourced using both sustainable and natural means.

Whereas the Halaan shell is a brand new discovery in the oral care category, Salvadora persica has been used in India for hundreds of years as a means of keeping both gums and teeth healthy and clean.

It was discovered relatively recently by Western scientists after it was noted that the use of a ‘chewing stick’ by many Indians gave way to healthy teeth and gums, despite a poor diet and limited dental care treatment.

Salvadora persica extract

The extract, which is increasingly being used in natural oral care products, is derived from the branches of the Salvadora persica plant, which takes the form of a small bush or tree.

Recent scientific research has earmarked the plant’s importance in oral care thanks to its antiseptic and abrasive properties, as well as enzyme inhibitors and fluoride – properties that have led the World Health Organization to earmark it as an important source for oral hygiene use.

Most recently an extract of Salvadora persica has appeared in a natural toothpaste formula called Sarakan, made by UK company G R Lane Health, which is approved by the British Dental Association.

In North America oral care companies such as Tom’s Of Maine and the Natural Dentist have been driving growth in the oral care segment, mainly because they have managed to tap into the trend for natural oral care formulations.

In particular Tom’s of Maine has carved a name out for itself as the world’s leading player in the market for natural oral care and was bought out by the world’s largest oral care player, Colgate-Palmolive, in May 2006.