Private label gum maker Fertin Pharma says that mass-market gum makers are content with existing health claims on sugar free gum and are unconcerned about boosting the effects through added ingredients.
Fertin Pharma recently launched White Gum and Cavity Gum at nutraceutical tradeshow Vitafoods in Geneva, Switzerland. The gums contain 'extra' functional ingredients such as fluoride that it claims go beyond mass-market oral healthcare products, which rely on health claims for unfortified sugar free gum.
Oral care and gum: Well established
We asked what Fertin’s products did beyond the benefits sugar-free gum brought to teeth anyway.
"That's one of the considerations we had because there are so many chewing gums out there already making oral healthcare claims,” said Thomas Jahn, marketing manager for Fertin Pharma.
The link between chewing gum and dental health is already well-established. Sugar-free gum alone stimulates saliva - which is saturated with calcium, phosphate and buffers. This gum-stimulated salvia maintains tooth mineralization, reduces oral dryness and neutralizes plaque – claims that are all backed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
Health claims as add-ons
“We saw there was a hole in the market for some serious products - products that would be accepted by dental professionals,” said Jahn.
But some mass-market sugar-free gums already have the backing of dentists. Wrigley’s Extra and Orbit, for example, both have the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance.
"They are just trying to sell chewing gum and the oral care benefit is maybe just an add-on,” said Jahn. “Here we're trying to create oral care benefits as a central element in the product."
"Our target group for these products are not mass-market brands, they are more professional brands sold in drug stores and pharmacies that are more credible for dental health."
Jahn continued: “We also saw that there were not that many chewing gums putting fluoride in them. We know that fluoride is a very recognized ingredient for oral health so that was a no brainer for us. “
He said that many firms felt it unnecessary to add fluoride because they could already make health claims on their sugar-free gums without it.
"A lot of companies are very claims focused instead of effects focused,“ he said.
Fertin Pharma has earmarked whitening, cavity protection and hypersensitivity as the biggest growth areas for sugar-free gum. Its Cavity Gum is fortified with magnesium, fluoride, calcium phosphate and vitamin D.
"Apart from being anti-carries positioned, it's also for strong teeth - that's why we've included calcium and vitamin D,” said Jahn. “We created a flavor that feels like you get a small dentist in your mouth. It feels like you've just gotten out of the dentist's chair."
Fertin is currently working on product for sensitive teeth and has also recently launched a new whiteneing gum called White Gum.
"It's with fluoride as a base which the same for all of our oral care products but then we are also using baking soda, calcium carbonate and calcium pyrophosphate, which all have whitening effects on the teeth," said Jahn.
The active ingredients are added loosely just like the flavors and sweeteners but then they are compressed by Fertin’s bi-layered compression technology. "It's a cold and dry process that ensures a high survival rate for sensitive active ingredients,” said Jahn.
Both new gums use no aspartame and are sweetened with a mix of polyols as well as stevia.
"We’re trying to avoid the use of aspartame as much as we can and also try to incorporate stevia," said Jahn.
"The thing with aspartame is that although there are so many studies showing there’s nothing wrong with it, it is still a very problematic ingredient for many consumers because it has just had bad press for so many years."