Oral Care Continues to Upgrade

Author: Barbara Sax

Innovation continues to drive the oral care category, as patients snap up products that offer better protection and improved performance.

?Oral care is indeed a standout category,? said Amy Kasza, research analyst with the Hamacher Resource Group. ?We saw the introduction of a number of premium products, some of which could ultimately become category- or segment-creating.?

Premium products, said Kasza, go above and beyond what is already offered in the category. ?They bring a new dimension and, ideally, they create a new tier and price point within a category,? she said. Kasza cited Del Pharmaceuticals Inc?s Orajel Bleeding Gum Rinse, a condition-specific product, and Alva-Amco?s Pharmacal Companies Inc?s Theradent Teeth Desensitizing Oral Rinse, a formula for sensitive teeth.

Recent studies have linked disease states to poor gum health, and manufacturers have taken note. TheraBreath promotes its new Perio-Therapy Gum Care Oral Rinse as a product that aids in prevention of more serious conditions that are non?oral-health?related. ?It builds off the emerging research that oral health is a key contributor to overall good health,? said Kasza. Pharmacists can expect more action in this arena, as manufacturers position good oral health as a cornerstone to overall wellness. It also opens many opportunities for pharmacist recommendations.

Even whitening products became more specific this year. Colgate?s new Luminous, a paste that lifts stain and reinforces enamel layers, targets mature patients. Aging boomers are the target market for this fluoride mineral paste.

Following the introduction of Pro-Health Rinse, Procter & Gamble introduced Pro-Health Toothpaste in 2006. The new paste combines cavity prevention, tartar control, plaque prevention, stain removal, and gum and breath protection in 1 formula.

?Crest Pro-Health Toothpaste?s launch is one of the biggest Crest dentifrice launches on record and is driving success of the overall category for P & G,? said Tonia Elrod, a spokesperson for Procter & Gamble. ?The Pro-Health line is designed to provide consumers with the best products in their categories.?

Innovation and improved performance continue to drive the brush category. Manufacturers are finding new ways to upgrade manual brushes by bringing affordable power options to the market. In August 2006, Procter & Gamble introduced Oral-B Vitality, the first line of power toothbrushes to offer a conic brush to patients for less than $20.

Products with natural ingredients also had an impact on the category. Crest launched Nature?s Expressions, a line of pastes with natural-flavored ingredients, such as mint green tea. ?Crest discovered that the appeal of natural ingredients has broadened to the mass consumer,? said Procter & Gamble?s Elrod. Kline and Co predicts that patient demand for natural products without artificial dyes, flavors, and sweeteners will increase.

Whitening products remain a significant part of the category. The segment now not only encompasses pastes and strips, but includes rinses and gum as well. Crest?s newest addition to the category is Crest Whitestrips Daily Multicare, a 5-minute daily whitener that launched nationwide in April 2007. The product, the first and only daily strip technology available, is targeted to busy patients who may not have the time to make a traditional whitening product part of their daily regimen.

In sum, the oral care category has been driven by product innovation and improved performance. Patients seem to be drawn to products with updated features and, in an increasingly busy world with busy schedules, products that are convenient to use in a short amount of time. Pharmacists play an important role in advising proper oral care treatment for patients.

Ms. Sax is a freelance writer based in Chevy Chase, Md.