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Tooth whiteners that enhance teeth may soon be available in over-the-counter gels and strips, according to a dental researcher who shared his team's latest findings at the American Dental Association's national media conference in June.
Frederick Eichmiller, D.D.S., director of the American Dental Association's Paffenbarger Research Center (PRC) in Gaithersburg, Md., said his team has created a "white with might" whitening formula that contains amorphous calcium phosphate (ACP), a compound originally developed to remineralize teeth and reverse early enamel lesions.
"Whitening can often open naturally occurring pores within teeth," Eichmiller told Progressive Grocer during an interview after the conference. "These open pores can cause temporary sensitivity to air as well as hot and cold food and drinks, a common side effect from tooth whitening. Saliva contains minerals teeth need to heal themselves by closing these pores, but this process is slow. The 'white with might' whitening formula replenishes essential minerals in teeth as it whitens, resulting in far fewer side effects for consumers."
Indeed, Eichmiller noted this fact in "Amorphous calcium phosphates for tooth mineralization," which was published in the September 2004 issue of The Compendium of Continuing Education in Dentistry:
"ACP has been shown to rapidly hydrolyze to form apatite, similar to carbonated apatite, the tooth mineral. Products containing ACP or ingredients that form ACP can include toothpastes, mouth rinses, artificial saliva, chewing gums, topically applied coatings, and other vehicles for topical use. When applied, they readily precipitate ACPs on and into tooth-surface defects. These products hopefully will provide users with new tools to restore and enhance the smoothness and luster of their teeth."
Some CPG companies have already taken notice. Trident White with Recaldent and Arm & Hammer Enamel Care toothpastes use remineralization agents as ingredients.
Recaldent was discovered and patented by the School of Dental Science at the University of Melbourne in Australia and licensed exclusively to Bonlac Bioscience, Ltd. in Sydney. It's a complex of casein phosphopeptides and amorphous calcium phosphate (CPP-ACP) that maintains essential minerals (calcium and phosphate) in a soluble form that's able to penetrate the enamel of the tooth. When used as an ingredient in oral care products, Recaldent promotes remineralization of enamel just below the tooth's surface.
In early 1999 the Food and Drug Administration accepted the Recaldent GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) notification. Work is currently under way to develop a range of products containing Recaldent, including toothpaste and mouthwash.
Arm & Hammer Enamel Care toothpastes and Mentadent Replenishing White use the company's proprietary Liquid Calcium technology, which was developed to fill in enamel pits and crevices in the tooth surface, to restore enamel luster. "So far, successful clinical trials have been done involving professional whitening treatments," says Eichmiller.
One such trial, which was published in the March 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association, analyzed how professionally dispensed bleaching gel with added ACP affects tooth color and dentinal hypersensitivity. The subjects experienced both significant tooth color enhancement and a reduction of clinical measures of tooth hypersensitivity. "The OTC companies have yet to conduct their own trials here in the United States, but I see that happening soon," says Eichmiller. "It's like having your cake and eating it, too, when it comes to tooth whitening."