The World Health Organization estimates that mouth and gum diseases affect nearly 3.5 billion people worldwide1. Many of these conditions can be serious if left untreated, but they’re also largely preventable if routine oral hygiene practices are employed. Standard oral care practices include brushing teeth twice a day and using mouthwash – two products being more heavily used, as reflected by continually growing oral care sales.
The movement to improve oral care worldwide has seen the global market for oral care products valued at $53 billion in 2020, with an expectation for this to rise to $96 billion by the end of 20312.
For those operating in the oral care market, however, with this growth comes the challenge of an increasingly crowded and competitive space. One of the best ways a company can differentiate is to better understand consumer needs, and then develop products based on these desires.
LLS Health recognizes this critical step in product development and continually conducts consumer and market insights (CMI) studies with their dedicated CMI division. Recently, a CMI study was carried out to examine the most important product properties for consumers in oral care products.
When asked about significant product properties in toothpaste and mouthwash, “long-lasting effect” was identified as one of the top four most important factors for consumers when choosing oral care products, alongside essential performance benefits (Figure 1)
But what exactly is “long-lasting effect”?
For consumers, long-lasting effect refers to the benefits provided by a product’s active ingredients that continue for an extended period of time – hours, instead of minutes. In the oral care space, the benefits that consumers expect to last over the course of the day include cavity protection, gum soothing, and the sensation of freshly cleaned teeth, among others.
Meeting consumer demands for long-lasting oral care products is an effective way for companies to differentiate in the market. But how can this goal be achieved?
The secret to optimized long-lasting effect is by ensuring the active ingredients are retained in the oral cavity – on the gums, the tongue or the throat mucosa – for as long as possible. Mucoadhesion has a central role to play in achieving this goal.
What is mucoadhesion and why is it needed?
Mucoadhesion is the temporary bond between two materials, at least one of which is a mucosal surface (Figure 2). In the scope of this article, the other material is an oral care product, such as toothpaste or mouthwash.
To achieve mucoadhesion in an oral care product, a mucoadhesive excipient, such as carbomers, must be incorporated into the formulation. Without mucoadhesive excipients, long-term adhesion of a formulation to oral tissue is inhibited, due to continuous turnover of mucosa, ingestion of food and drink, or mechanical action within the oral cavity.
Benefits for consumers
As a result of mucoadhesion, oral care products can have longer lasting contact time with the inside of the mouth, giving the active ingredient more time to take effect. This can enhance oral health, for example by giving actives such as stannous fluoride, more time in the mouth to help prevent gum disease. Mucoadhesion can also aid a product by providing a protective coating for oral tissue or act as a lubricating agent, which can be beneficial for xerostomia (dry mouth) or gum disease.
Some product types that can benefit from mucoadhesion include:
- Aqueous toothpaste formulations
- Anhydrous toothpaste formulations
- Mouthwash and oral rinses
- Denture adhesive products
Carbomers, such as Carbopol® polymers, and polycarbophil, such as Noveon® polycarbophil, are two excipients that demonstrate excellent, proven mucoadhesive ability. Carbopol® polymers can be utilized in a wide range of dosage forms, including toothpaste, mouthwashes, and oral gels. LLS Health supplies multiple grades of Carbopol® polymers, each providing various benefits. Extensive research has demonstrated that Carbopol® polymers provide enhanced therapeutic benefits to oral care products through prolonged retention of ingredients3.
Carbomers: The key competitive ingredient
Oral care is becoming increasingly important across the globe. Every market has unique demands when it comes to the properties of oral care products. However, no matter the market, the ability to promote longer-lasting properties of oral care products will give a brand greater appeal in an increasingly saturated marketplace. Additionally, offering improved products such as these allows companies to keep pace with the broader movement towards premium products.
When purchasing oral care products, consumers are already looking for key benefits, including better oral health, fresh breath, and teeth whitening. Leveraging mucoadhesive properties to provide these for a sustained period of time is an effective way to meet and exceed existing consumer demands.
For more information on how to instill mucoadhesive properties to a formulation, please download our infographic.