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.