Having worked with the Cosmetics Cluster UK (CCUK) on an appeal for companies operating in the oral care sector, we would like to conclude this call. We have reached out to industry and encouraged SME’s to come forward and join the National Biofilms Innovation Centre (NBIC) as an industry partner, for networking and signposting to academic expertise in oral microbiome/biofilms.
NBIC has joined the CCUK to drive Research & Innovation: ‘We are a centre of excellence in biofilm research, with a strong industry perspective, intently listening in on the latest scientific and commercial conversations.’
In our oral care blogs, we have reviewed the complexity of bacterial communities in oral health and highlighted hygiene habits of the UK population, which often are inadequate to prevent tooth decay, stop gum inflammation progressing to gum disease, avoiding discoloration and bad breath (halitosis). We looked at how best to motivate consumer behaviour and encourage better oral hygiene care – by conventional tooth-brushing or new smartphone brushing effectiveness sensing technology; the effectiveness of traditional active ingredients and toothpaste innovation. Adherence to good oral health habits is low in the teenage population - at the time when lifestyle habits are formed, yet conventional education with ‘normative advice’ often fails to bring about behavioural change for a longer period of time. We concluded that although oral care is a growing sector due to increased awareness of oral health and rising prevalence of dental disease – to innovate in oral care is difficult due to the diverse global regulatory landscape. Consumer toothpaste preferences are driven by perceived performance, product attributes like taste but also brand awareness, company credibility, transparency and sustainable ingredients.
There is a rise in premium products and targeted solutions (with plant extracts, enzymes, pre- and pro-biotics or whitening functionality) accelerating market growth. However, the ultimate goal is emotional – the industry are seeking the ‘wow’ factor and new ‘amazing’ sensory experiences in toothpastes that drive us to go brushing. We featured the old The Pepsodent Story - its real secret to creating a habit was the surprising mint flavour and the tingly feeling, this was missed when consumers forget to brush their teeth. The brain starts to crave the reward of the sensation. Advances in the understanding of oral microbial ecology should allow for development of more efficacious technologies, yet focusing on simple consumer messages and visualisation of oral biofilms to explain to people how oral hygiene works is the way forward.
So where next? Oral health plays a role in other areas of the human body e.g. oral microbiome has been linked to imbalance in vaginal health leading to adverse health outcomes, potentially pathogen colonisation. Our next call with CCUK will focus on this emerging area and explore opportunities for commercialisation of skin microbiome/biofilm research in the area of feminine health and wellbeing.