Toothpaste marketing: not so pearly white

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Consumer watchdog CHOICE has criticised the marketing claims made by popular toothpaste products.

CHOICE reviewed 17 toothpastes priced between $1.27 and $7.99 with the help of a number of dental health experts.

According to the CHOICE report most toothpastes contain two integral ingredients, fluoride and a mild abrasive like calcium carbonate or hydrated silica, despite marketing claims varying from 'multi-action' to 'extreme clean'.

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These elements, 'bound together with thickeners, sweeteners, stabilisers and flavours', are necessary to remove plaque and prevent cavities.

Of the reviewed toothpastes, however, none contained a bleaching agent required to whiten teeth.

A number of the toothpastes promise whitening as a result of stain removal rather than actual bleaching.

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The CHOICE report states that the 13 reviewed products designed for adults all contained similar active ingredients.

"All contain fluoride and an abrasive, the same humectant (which helps the paste retain moisture) and sweetener, as well as water, flavour and a lathering agent."

The report was more positive about toothpastes designed for sensitive teeth, which aims 'to block the dentine tubules and minimise sensitivity when brushing'.

Ultimately, the CHOICE report found, good oral health hinges on fluoride, regular care, flossing and diet.

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