CHOICE slams toothpastes for marketing spin, ‘brands contain same ingredients as home label toothpastes’

Consumer watchdog CHOICE has accused toothpaste manufacturers of marketing spin, and claims that branded toothpaste contains basically the same ingredients as home label toothpaste sold in supermarkets.

Terms like ‘advanced-whitening’, ‘multi-action,’ ‘enamel-lock,’ and ‘micro-cleaning crystals’ lead consumers to believe that different toothpastes clean teeth in different ways, with more expensive toothpastes doing more than cheaper brands.

But in reality consumers are paying extra for essentially the same product, CHOICE spokesperson Ingrid Just has said.

“All toothpastes do basic jobs – they polish teeth and dislodge particles of food to avoid cavities and plaque,” said Just, pointing to fluoride, a mild abrasive, humectants, thickeners, sweeteners, lathering agents and flavours as the basic toothpaste ingredients.

The report also slams claims made by toothpaste makers that they are capable of whitening teeth – none of these brands contained a bleaching agent needed to alter the colour of teeth.

“Whitening toothpastes are not an overall whitening treatment,” said Just. “In fact, of the 13 adult toothpastes we looked at, there was very little difference in the active ingredients, regardless of how cheap or expensive they were.”

According to CHOICE, the fine print covers the lack of a bleaching agent by saying that the toothpaste will remove stains.

Colgate Advanced Whitening toothpaste ($3.99 for 110g) and Woolworths Home brand Freshmint toothpaste ($1.27 for 150g) contain many of the same ingredients, while White Glo Extra Strength Coffee & Tea Drinkers Formula at $4.69 for 150g costs more than three times as much as Coles Smart Buy regular toothpaste at $1.27 for 150g, the report found.

The report also attacked toothpaste makers of marketing spin on children’s toothpaste, and for using characters such as Spiderman and the Wiggles on packaging.

“While dental experts recommend special low-fluoride toothpastes for very young children, those aimed at children over seven are nothing more than toothpaste manufacturers creating a niche market segment. That’s not a problem for the child’s teeth but it does potentially confuse parents who think they should buy special toothpaste for older children,” said Just.


  1. JG
    4 Jul 12
    10:59 am

  2. And all consumer magazines are the same and find fault with products consumers like to buy.

  3. bob is a rabbit
    4 Jul 12
    11:23 am

  4. err @JG, kinda childish response. And doesn’t address the issue. In other industries what these marketers are doing would be referred to as ‘fraud’.

  5. EP
    4 Jul 12
    11:52 am

  6. Functional value propositions are the refuge of the unimaginative.
    Theres over 40 broadly similar Colgate product varieties but no story.

  7. Jam Jar
    4 Jul 12
    12:48 pm

  8. Just addressing using the characters such as the Wiggles and Spiderman, as much as this topic is always attacked ‘using kids characters to sell products’, on the flip side, it actually works to get kids to try things. As a parent of a young child, they want to use the toothpaste that has the Spiderman on it.

    Obviously as a parent you just have to make sure your giving your child the right things when brands are using advertising aimed at children (i.e not feeding them Macca’s meals on a daily basis with a free toy).

    If putting character on a Colgate toothpaste makes kids want to start brushing there teeth regularly then its great. The product is a toothpaste… which is actually a good thing for kids.

  9. Ricki
    4 Jul 12
    1:00 pm

  10. I’m also hearing that Coke, Pepsi and Homebrand Coke are all basically the same thing with few differences. And that flat screen TVs come out of the same factories in Asia. And that generic drugs are the same as branded drugs. And that regardless of brand, when you open ‘tinned tomatoes’ guess what’s inside? Tinned tomatoes!

    Turns out its marketing that in many cases makes us prefer one brand over the other! I hear its one of the characteristics of a free market. OMG someone call the cops!!!

  11. Paris
    4 Jul 12
    1:45 pm

  12. Well duh.
    Of course they’re the same (with subtle differences). Otherwise why/how would marketing exist? We would all use the same toothpaste and there would be no competition. And I wouldn’t need to sell ads.

  13. Heather
    4 Jul 12
    3:47 pm

  14. Damn it! I always buy the whitening one and hope it will make my teeth whiter! Ha ha