Go fish!

Cast a line and catch an innovative oral care product for consumers.

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by Karen Kaiser, RDH

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After an angler baits a hook with a wiggly earthworm and drops the line, chances are good he or she may catch a fish. Although the process of trolling for fish may sound simple, there are techniques for successful fishing. Patience, timing, and finding the best spot are key fundamentals behind catching fish. Using an aged cane pole, bobber, red wiggler, and tight line may prove to be equipment enough to catch a prized fish, but many modern fishermen opt for artificial lures. Using the cane pole method does not involve much action in the water. When an angler uses a rod and reel with a top or bottom jig, he is able to cast farther with fast action. Reaching into shady coves with a rapid acting spinner sets the line for catching the big one. Add a new, depth finding fish locating device with sonar waves and a bass boat with a quiet trolling motor, and the angler gains further assurance there will be fish to fillet for dinner.

You should consider adding innovative gear to your tackle box of dental products.

Learning that a dental product is "new" brings with it various opinions. Perhaps the dental consumer believes a product has earned the label of new because it has been improved. In many cases, a new item brings a price adjustment - usually more expensive. Maybe the new item gracing the shelves has changed flavors or been upgraded with additional ingredients.

An innovative development that promises convenience to an existing product can bring new verve to the product and make it more appealing to the consumer. Perhaps there has never been a product like this one, so the consumer must "buy and try" - be the first one to have it. Sampling a new fangled product can launch a fresh and, hopefully, pleasant dental experience.

Luring the consumer down the dental aisle

Manufacturers put faith in glitzy ads and displays to lure customers into buying. The impulse aisle (the aisle as close to the check out as possible) has everything at eye level, which is perfect for grabby kids. The unsuspecting consumer heads to the store for bread, milk, and mouthwash, and is faced with many choices on the health and beauty aisle. For some, whatever product matches the coupon is the product of choice. Others go for the cheapest or generic brand. Hopefully, most will choose what their hygienist recommended at their last appointment.

It's amazing how some dental consumers purchase dental products. They tell us, "My toothbrush has to match my bathroom," or "It has to fit the toothbrush holder." In many cases, the storage or case concerns them, not the product. For others, the toothpaste has to stand up, have a flip-top or a certain cartoon character. Through education, we discuss desirable products which fit our patients' needs.

Loading the product tackle box

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Brush-Ups(tm) dental wipes by Oral-B are textured, minty mouth wipes that can be used when traditional brushing is not feasible. The wipe is placed on the index finger and rubbed over the surfaces of the smile. The cloth-like honeycomb pad leaves the mouth tingly fresh and the finger dry due to the absorbent moisture shield. An added benefit is that rinsing is not required after using the wipes. Try placing single samples in the patients' restroom so they can refresh prior to their prophy.

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Even a familiar product that has stood the test of time can innovate and move forward. Listerine, an antiseptic mouthrinse introduced in 1914, continues to advance by updating formulas and flavors. With the introduction of Listerine Natural Citrus (orange), patients who once found the original product too intense can now enjoy Listerine's effectiveness with a mild and pleasing taste. Listerine has taken its germ fighter benefits and added hints of lemon, tangerine, orange, and grapefruit. Rinsing with Natural Listerine for the allotted 30 seconds leaves an invigorating and tasteful mouth. Reintroduce this antiseptic with decades of germ-fighting success to your patients. I ask my non-compliant mouthrinse patients, "Orange you glad you tried Listerine again?"

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Listerine also offers PocketPaks oral strips. These have all the germ-fighting ingredients found in the antiseptic rinse, yet are portable. What a concept - a dissolving on-the-tongue halitosis-fighting, germ-quenching film. These strips come in cinnamon and mint, and a single pack contains 24 strips.

Changing bait

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In the past, it was not recommended that sensitive patients try a potent tartar control or whitening toothpaste. The formulas were at the root of the problem since they were too abrasive for the exposed porous dentin, causing pain for sensitive patients. To fill a void for these consumers, GlaxoSmithKline developed a mild, low abrasive toothpaste which relieves pain and breaks up enamel stain, all in a product called Sensodyne Extra Whitening. Ingredients such as sodium monofluorophosphate and potassium nitrate give desensitizing protection. The whitening aspect of the paste has clean-and-shine ingredients as well as calcium peroxide, but no harsh bleaching agents. These combine in the paste to result in surface whitening.

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A non-cariogenic carbohydrate sweetener that has been chewing up the gum market has been introduced to consumers. Xylitol, a naturally occurring sweetener, has been in foods since the 1960s. Because of its ability to reduce caries, halt new caries, and reverse the decay process, the sugarless additive has been brought into the forefront of prevention protocol. Xylitol is now a popular suggestion for our gum-chewing patients, who can benefit from the reduction in dental caries. Carefree Koolerz, Wrigley's Orbit, and varieties of Trident gums contain the sweetener.

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Another caries reducer, ACT(r) anti-cavity fluoride rinse, has introduced ACT with "freshening" ingredients. Rinsing with this blue, more mature variety gives breath which has "gone fishing" a new freshness. ACT rinse offers caries reduction when used as part of a regular regimen for decay prone adults. The "plus freshening" flavoring gives the mouth a cooling sensation.

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Sunstar/Butler recently introduced Rincinol P.R.N., a soothing bandage to address injured oral needs. As the name implies, Rincinol P.R.N. is rinsed from the packet throughout the mouth to form a bioadhesive layer, which can be used as often as necessary. This glossy gel prevents air and irritants from infecting and activating agitated nerve endings by forming a protective barrier that promotes healing. The product is a clear, licorice flavored, thick liquid gel. The unique formulation of the product does not cause any harsh effects because it is alcohol-free and contains Aloe vera. Pain from dental procedures, cheek bites, food injury, orthodontic hardware, oral surgery, removable appliance therapies, and even canker ulcerations are discovering the gentle, soothing relief of this product.

Innovative products from familiar brands help keep both the dental aisles and the consumer fresh. New dental items are luring customers hook, line, and sinker down the aisles with attractive displays and trendy marketing strategies aimed for those dental dollars. Product line extensions, reformulations, and flavor enhancements fill store shelves. Convenience, prevention, and relief are promised. Marketing to consumers mouths remains a pleasant "buy"-product of innovation.

Karen Kaiser, RDH, graduated from St. Louis' Forest Park dental hygiene program in 1994 and currently practices at the Center for Contemporary Dentistry in Columbia, Ill. She has written several articles for RDH and other publications, sits on dental hygiene panels, and is an evaluator for Clinical Research Associates. She can be contacted at hygiene touch@yahoo.com.

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