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Theobromine for Tooth Decay Prevention
By: Katie Anderson (Schaefer), Cosmetics & Toiletries magazine
Posted: March 30, 2012, from the April 2012 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries.
In the past few decades, oral care has seen innovations in flavor delivery, teeth-whitening and sensitivity treatments. However, the market offers only one raw material proven to protect teeth against decay—fluoride. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), fluoride incorporated into toothpaste strengthens tooth enamel and remineralizes tooth decay. In fact, all toothpastes approved by the ADA contain fluoride.1
While it may help to protect teeth from decay, fluoride at high levels also has been reported to irritate the gastrointestinal tract2 and some manufacturers have formulated products without it. However, toothpastes without fluoride are not providing any real benefit beyond cleansing, says Arman Sadeghpour, PhD, who, by chance, stumbled across another raw material that exhibits better anti-cavity efficacy than fluoride without adverse health effects.
Theobromine for Teeth
After a chain of events initiated by Hurricane Katrina prompted him to reconnect with his high school mentor, Tetsuo Nakamoto, DDS, PhD, Sadeghpour shifted his doctoral thesis to continue Nakamoto’s research on methylated xanthines. Nakamoto had found that while caffeine adversely affects teeth, its fellow methylated xanthine, theobromine, strengthened tooth enamel. Sadeghpour therefore wanted to expand Nakamoto’s in vivo studies of the effects of theobromine on animal teeth to human teeth, and to compare its anti-cavity efficacy with fluoride.
Sadeghpour measured the micro-hardness of human teeth enamel treated either with artificial saliva or artificial saliva with theobromine and found that theobromine stimulated the growth of new enamel. “The mineral that makes up teeth, hydroxylapatite, under normal conditions is 0.5 μ. Theobromine allows for calcium and phosphorus from saliva to come together in a larger unit crystal that is four times the size of hydroxylapatite, or 2 μ,” explained Sadeghpour.
The researchers thus sought to patent the oral use of theobromine, which involved finding a source and developing the raw material. “Theobromine itself is an organic molecule that can be extracted from materials like cacao, which is difficult because cacao has other impurities such as caffeine that have to removed,” noted Sadeghpour. The team optimized a pharmaceutical- and food-grade theobromine with other proprietary materials found to remineralize teeth and formed Rennou, its patented anti-cavity active.