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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.
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In collaboration with Clifton Carey of the ADA, Sadeghpour and Carey found that theobromine protected teeth from decay better than fluoride. “The amount of theobromine in a one ounce dark chocolate bar has a better effect on tooth hardness than a 1.1% prescription sodium fluoride treatment,” said Sadeghpour. Carey showed that at a concentration 142 times less than that of fluoride, the theobromine active had twice the protective effect on teeth.
While fluoride is an effective enamel strengthener, it can have some adverse effects—dental fluorosis, or tooth discoloration, for one. According to Sadeghpour, the federal government issued a mandate to reduce the amount of fluoride in drinking water by 30% due to reports of overexposure in children. Also, as previously mentioned, since high doses can irritate the gastrointestinal tract, some refuse fluoride treatments at the dentist’s office. Conversely, theobromine was found to be readily absorbed by the gut, metabolized and cleared cleanly by humans. “Dentists are excited to have an alternative to fluoride” said Sadeghpour.
Formulation and Future
Two toothpastes are offered by the company that contain the patented theobromine active as well as traditional hydrated silica, glycerin and xylitol. “Xylitol is a sweetener that has garnered a lot of attention in oral care because it selects the good bacteria in the mouth. The bad bacteria can’t metabolize that sugar,” explained Sadeghpour. Also included are sodium bicarbonate, known to neutralize bacterial acids in the mouth, and titanium dioxide as a whitening agent and slight abrasive to help clean the surface of the tooth. “The titanium dioxide removes the bacteria and proteins that stick to the tooth and prepares the tooth for [the active] to work more effectively,” noted Sadeghpour. The two formulations are the same, save for the higher dose of active in one, which addresses compromised or weak enamel and extreme tooth sensitivity.
The company also plans to create formulations for children. “This technology is appealing to parents, who no longer have to make sure their children are spitting out the toothpaste,” said Sadeghpour. He also noted that consumers have requested chocolate-flavored toothpaste for children, based on theobromine’s presence in cacao. A mouthwash is also planned, and while the formulations will change, the main difference will be the strength of the active.
Sadeghpour maintains that theobromine offers consumers a safe, effective alternative to fluoride. He concluded, “If there is better way to do something that is nontoxic and more effective, why wouldn’t you choose that alternative.”