Fluoride Action Network

Crabshell toothpaste ‘fights decay’

Source: BBC News | September 23rd, 2002
Location: United Kingdom, England
Industry type: Toothpaste

Crabshells could form the basis of a new toothpaste

A toothpaste made from crab’s shells could cut dental infections and reduce the number of trips to the dentist, researchers claim.

The paste contains a sticky chemical substance which can kill bacteria.

It lodges around parts of the teeth and gums where bacteria grow and cause gum disease and tooth decay.

Water breaks the particles down, allowing them to release an antimicrobial chemical, triclosan, inside them.

University of Portsmouth researchers hope the toothpaste could be on sale in as little as a years time.

The particles are made from a substance called chitosan, derived from chitin, the main component of crab and beetle shells.

24 hour protection

The researchers mixed the particles into a glycerol base, the basic material toothpaste is made out off.

They successfully found ways around problems such as how to get triclosan, which is not water soluble, into the particles and making sure they were the right size.

If they were too big, the toothpaste would feel gritty, and if they were too small, they would not contain enough of the drug.

Laboratory tests have shown the particles can stick to tissue for up to two hours. The researchers hope to increase that to 24 hours.

Researchers have developed a basic toothpaste containing a cleaning agent but no fluoride or flavouring.

Dr John Smart, who developed the toothpaste with PhD student Sandra Kockisch, said: “The idea was to find some way to keep the therapeutic agent in the oral cavity for longer.

“People are not particularly keen on gels, and mouthwashes don’t stay in the mouth for very long. But everyone uses toothpaste.”

He presented his research at the British Pharmaceutical Conference in Manchester.

The British Dental Association says much more needs to be known about the paste.

A spokesman added: “We continue to advise people to brush their teeth twice a day with a good quality fluoride toothpaste.”