Flavors are fine, of coarse

Jan. 1, 2005
Choosing a prophy paste may be as much a flavor preference as a physical reaction for patients.

Choosing a prophy paste may be as much a flavor preference as a physical reaction for patients. The flavor response is elicited from a combination of complex chemical stimuli. Intricate miscellanies of gustatory, trigeminal and olfactory sensations are perceived by the taste buds’ receptors. When the right blend and texture is found, a pleasing flavor of grit results.

Flavor plays a strategic marketing tool in prophy paste competition. Lots of attention go to the flavor during manufacturing and marketing. There is a science to flavor selection and taste preference. Here are some observations that are interesting to me.

Choosy people generally choose mint. These folks prefer a flavor straight from their familiar toothpaste tube. While some may call this unadventurous, they do not want to hear the full menu of flavors when they know they want mint. These are the same people who often utter, “Just get this over with” under their breath. There are also those who prefer mint as a natural and therapeutic choice. Patients may say, “My teeth just don’t feel clean with any other flavor.” To add a little variety, Young Dental, makers of D-Lish prophy paste, offers Mint Jubilee, which consists of three varieties for the mint lover - berry mint, cocoa mint, and cinnamon mint.

Tasting a bit like a Girl Scout thin mint cookie, a chocoholic will be pleased to know that chocolate may be had in the dentist’s office guilt-free with cocoa mint.

What flavors Next?

What flavors Next?

Vanilla is anything but plain when the patient selects Next prophy paste by Preventech. A patient may say, “I’ll have the plain vanilla,” but this vanilla is anything but plain. Next brand also offers watermelon. Who could resist a polish with a satisfying summer flavor like watermelon, and it’s seedless! If the summer flavor doesn’t suit your patient’s palate, try wintergreen, a cool, refreshing flavor guaranteed to bring oral refreshment.

Baskin-Robbins rotates nearly 100 flavors through stores every year. Amazingly, there are more than 1,000 ice cream flavors produced by the company. Many of these ice cream flavors have unique names - Lunar cheesecake, Beatle Nut, 0031 Secret Bond, or Baseball Nut. An appealing name can have an impact on consumer choices. Paste companies such as Dentsply Professional, makers of NuPro, have expanded the names of many traditional pastes by adding adjectives like swirl, extreme, or blast. Tweaking traditional names to “zinnamon” or “razzberry” may catch the clinician’s eye, but I find myself serving patients “cinnamon” and “raspberry” to avoid any flavor confusion.

A few paste flavors are geared primarily to children. However, when an adult chooses bubble gum or cookie dough, you know you’re dealing with a kid at heart. When rattled off as part of the paste flavor line-up, cookie dough will undoubtedly need to repeated because patients won’t believe it. Most patients who try cookie dough will ask for it at their next recare appointment. Assure them it’s low calorie.

Grape is mainly chosen by male patients. Cinnamon is preferred by adventurous patients, and razzberry is favored by the senior crowd. The latter must be due tothe fact that they can now have a slice of razzberry pie without the seeds lodging in their teeth

The Sultan Company has introduced Topex neapolitan. Just like the ice cream blend, stawberry, chocolate, and vanilla can be dished out in a dose cup. Mix the vanilla with their root beer float flavor for a combined oral treat.

Gone are the bland pumice paste days. Fruity flavors are popular choices among patients. They can select cherry, grape, orange, fresh strawberry, or even tropical fruit. Young also offers orange in a "dreamsicle" blend. Unlike the Popsicle, this orange choice does not leave the patient with "brain freeze." D-Lish paste comes in a non-splatter formula.

Taste and smell are strong aspects of flavor.When a patient asks you to select the paste, try this experiment. Do not permit the patient to smell the paste, and see if they can guess which flavor you chose. They seldom answer correctly.This is not surprising.What we frequently term as taste is, in fact, flavor. When patients are not allowed to involve needed senses, perception is altered.

So, next time the patient says, “Oh, you just choose the paste,” bear in mind how much impact flavors can have on the perceptive palate. Individual and blended flavors, with catchy names, offer tasty flavors which impact and satisfy the senses. Hygiene is fun, so the flavors should be too!

The author did not receive compensation for product endorsement. Visit the web to see the full menu of flavors available www.preventech.com, www.youngdental.com, or www.sultandental.com or www.dentsply.com

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 [email protected].