by Anne Nugent Guignon, RDH, MPH
Personally I'm in awe of inventors, people who are smart enough to come up with new ways to solve old problems, or who create new platforms to improve the quality of life. At a time when the United States economy can use all the help it can get, it's thrilling to find products created by dental professionals and manufactured in this country. Let's start out the year with information about three new products that are sure to capture your imagination, spice up your home-care recommendations, and maybe even find their way onto your Valentine's Day gift list.
Imagine being able to chew a piece of candy that is actually good for your teeth! Welcome to BasicBites, a novel product, classified as a food, that has the taste and texture of a Tootsie Roll. BasicBites soft chews contain the ingredient AlkaGen, an arginine bicarbonate-calcium carbonate formulation, and they are sweetened with xylitol and other sugar alcohols.1 Certain oral bacteria favor the amino acid, arginine. The byproducts of this metabolism are alkaline, which results in a sustained buffering effect for hours. In addition to the benefits of arginine, bicarbonate also helps neutralize the pH of the oral cavity. BasicBites sticky candies adhere to tooth surfaces, providing an excellent source of calcium, which is an essential ingredient for healthy saliva and tooth remineralization. One gluten-free piece contains 20 calories and supplies 20% of the daily RDA of calcium.
Other articles by Guignon:
- A love of learning
- Aim for less strain, less pain in the dental hygiene operatory
- House of Cards: A fragile balance in our health
Since BasicBites is classified as a food, it cannot make any therapeutic claims, but the AlkaGen chemistry is based on decades of research conducted at Long Island's Stony Brook University School of Dentistry. To date, BasicBites are the only over-the-counter product available in the U.S. that contains the arginine bicarbonate-calcium carbonate complex. A number of studies have demonstrated the desensitizing properties2 and remineralization3 benefits that result when the arginine bicarbonate-calcium carbonate complex is used in other formats. Given the number of people who suffer from dry mouth issues, or who have highly acidic diets and frequently ingest erosive beverages, or have medical conditions with regurgitation as a side effect, the opportunity to neutralize the oral pH via BasicBites is a breakthrough. BasicBites are manufactured in North Carolina and can be purchased at basicbites.com.
Make mine chocolate ... toothpaste, that is! Sounds like the perfect chocoholic fantasy, doesn't it? Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, a methylated xanthene compound. Scientists at Tulane University discovered that theobromine facilitates the deposition of large hydroxyapatite crystals on the tooth surface. Through the combined efforts of researchers from many disciplines, a unique paste that contains theobromine and several minerals was formulated to plug open dentinal tubules as well as create a harder outer surface.
A 2012 study at the University of Texas Dental School in San Antonio compared the unique properties of Theodent to a popular brand of OTC toothpaste and a 5,000 PPM fluoridated paste that contains NovaMin, the trade name of calcium sodium phosphosilicate. The results demonstrated that two exposures a day to Theodent paste over a seven-day period resulted in a statistically significant difference in surface microhardness and less loss of mineral when exposed to acids as compared to the other two pastes.4 Even though the study included a Theodent paste that contained fluoride, the goal was to create a paste that facilitated the deposition of hydroxyapatite that was fluoride free and could be swallowed.
Theodent for Kids tastes like milk chocolate, while Classic Theodent and Theodent 300 are available in a mild mint flavor. Theodent is made in America. This unique toothpaste's tube sports a novel pop-off cap, and it comes in an upscale, designer box. All three versions can be purchased at theodent.com, and Classic Theodent is available at most Whole Food retail outlets.
Toothpicks and other types of interdental sticks are very popular among certain cultures. They are small, portable, and a valuable biofilm disruption tool if used properly. Imagine a lowly stick that can now be used to stimulate saliva flow as well. Brian Medei, DDS, coinventor of Kaboom XeroSticks, came up with the idea of saturating sticks with spilanthes, a plant chemical known to stimulate salivary flow.5 Fruit-flavored XeroSticks, available in different strengths and flavors, tailor the experience to the needs of the user. Initially the sticks create a slight tingling feeling that subsides over time. The active ingredients do not coat the surface but are incorporated throughout the entire device. Even after hours of use, XeroSticks remain firm so one stick can relieve dry mouth throughout the day.
Where do sticks fit into the lives of our patients? The possibilities are endless. Toothpicks are clinically proven to improve oral health. Think of patients who love sticks or who suffer from dry mouth issues. Imagine creating enough saliva to sleep through the night without having to moisten the mouth. XeroSticks with higher levels of spilanthes have helped people achieve uninterrupted rest. The on-the-go crowd will love the ease, and XeroSticks give people who are quitting smoking something to do with their hands. XeroSticks come boxed in individual wrappers or in small metal tubes that can be custom printed and fit neatly into one's pocket or purse. XeroSticks can be purchased at xerosticks.com.
In addition to novel chemistries and delivery systems, these companies are helping to boost the American economy. Arginine bicarbonate-calcium carbonate chemistry was created on Long Island over a decade ago. BasicBites are produced in a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in North Carolina. Not to be put off by the devastation from Hurricane Katrina, Theodent's scientific team has committed to being a part of a growing biotech incubator community in New Orleans, and the product is made in a certified factory in the Northwest. XeroSticks are made in Maine from sustainably harvested birch wood. XeroSticks are reviving the toothpick industry in Maine, the former toothpick manufacturing capital of the world.
Each one of these products is fun and memorable. Along with helping people improve their oral health and providing work for Americans, they offer our profession more options. What a great way to create excitement in your practice and help people become more engaged in taking care of themselves!
ANNE NUGENT GUIGNON, RDH, MPH, provides popular programs, including topics on biofilms, power driven scaling, ergonomics, hypersensitivity, and remineralization. Recipient of the 2004 Mentor of the Year Award and the 2009 ADHA Irene Newman Award, Anne has practiced clinical dental hygiene in Houston since 1971.
1. Acevedo AM, Montero M, et. Al. Clinical evaluation of the ability of CaviStat in a mint confection to inhibit the development of dental caries in children. J Dent Res. 19: 1-8, 2008.
2. Petrou I, Heu R, et al. A breakthrough therapy for dentin hypersensitivity: how dental products containing 8% arginine and calcium carbonate work to deliver effective relief of sensitive teeth. J Clin Dent. 2009;20(1):23-31.
3. Kraivaphan P, Amornchat C, et al. Two-year caries clinical study of the efficacy of novel dentifirces containing 1.5% arginine, and insoluble calcium compound and 1,450 ppm fluoride. Caries Res 2013; 47:582-590.
4. Amaechi BT, Porteous N, et al. Remineralization of artificial enamel lesions by theobromine. Caries Res 2013; 47:399-405.
5. Tiwari KL, Jadhav SK and Joshi V. An updated review on medicinal herb genus Spilanthes. J Chi Integ Med. 2011 Nov;9(11):1170-8.
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