- South Africa’s ads regulator has instructed Sensodyne to drop claims that its Pronamel toothpaste can help “rebuild” tooth enamel.
- Sensodyne argues that the sodium fluoride in its product accelerates teeth enamel’s remineralisation process.
- But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the new enamel is generated, the ad regulator has said.
SA’s Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) has barred toothpaste makers Sensodyne from claiming its product, Pronamel, can help rebuild enamel lost due to acid erosion.
In a video advert posted on its Facebook page in April, reviewed by the ARB after a consumer complaint, Sensodyne said that “[a]cidic food and drinks may damage your enamel, but Sensodyne Pronamel helps rebuild it.”
The video, which can no longer be found on Pronamel’s Facebook page, poses the question, “Is what you eat eating your enamel?” stating that acidic food causes enamel loss and then after showed an image of the Sensodyne Pronamel toothpaste, while claiming that it “helps rebuild and strengthen enamel”.
In its defence to the complaint, Sensodyne said the sodium fluoride in its toothpaste helps to protect teeth against the effects of erosion from consuming acidic foods. The toothpaste-maker also argued that the formulation used for Pronamel helps to replenish enamel softened by acid.
Tooth enamel starts to dissolve when exposed to acid and loses its calcium and phosphate ions or goes through a process called demineralisation. And while saliva in the mouth can help replace lost minerals and re-harden the teeth’s enamel, the fluoride in the Pronamel accelerates this process by promoting the uptake of calcium and phosphate ions found in saliva, Sensodyne said.
“Fluoridated enamel is also more acid-resistant than native enamel, which helps protect against further demineralisation,” it said.
“Sensodyne Pronamel will both accelerate the natural remineralisation process (enamel rebuilding), and increase protection against demineralisation (enamel loss), thereby actively enhancing the rebuilding or repair of demineralised enamel,” Sensodyne said in defence.
The ARB was of the view that Sensodyne intended to communicate that Pronamel helps to remineralise enamel rather than replenish or create it anew, – which it believes is suggested by using the “rebuild” phrase on the tubes.
A more apt claim would be that it strengthens the teeth’s remaining enamel, making them more resistant to further depletion or damage, the ARB said.
It said “protection” and “remineralisation” were not synonymous with the word “rebuild”.
Brand owners GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare sells an array of Pronamel variants in different markets across the world, several of which prominently claim to offer “repair” for weakened enamel, rather than rebuilding it.
(Compiled by Ntando Thukwana)