Tooth-friendly probiotic products are on horizon, BASF

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Dental caries

Consumer products containing a patented ingredient that binds bacteria in the mouth responsible for tooth caries and stops them sticking to teeth could reach the market this year, according to German chemicals giant BASF.

The firm’s functional ingredient Pro-t-action contains the active probiotic Lactobacillus paracasei​. BASF claims that it is tasteless, odourless, pH-neutral and works within 10 seconds, and touts application in everything from chewing gum and sugar-free sweets to toothpaste and mouthwash.

BASF initially tied-up with microbial development specialist OrganoBalance to identify the Lactobacillus paracasei ​probiotic strain, and the former company has since developed a proprietary production process enabling pro-t-action to be integrated into products.

BASF said in late 2009 that it expected the first oral hygiene products to appear in 2010/11, and spokeswoman Dr. Manuela Kummeter told the firm’s clients were still on target, although she was unable to discuss specific products:

“We still expect customers to launch the first products in 2010/2011​,​ she said.

“A number of alliances are ongoing with consumer product manufacturers, mainly in the US and Europe. All of the products are still under development. Due to non-disclosure agreements we cannot talk about those products and projects.”

EFSA environment

Meanwhile, industry fears are still rife that marketable claims about health benefits of functional foods may be forbidden under the EU nutrition and health claims regulation: in July 2009 EFSA specifically rejected Sunstar Suisse’s article 13.5 claim that its Lactobacillus reuteri​-fortified probiotic gum and tablets improved oral health.

EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) said that while decreasing levels of stretococcus mutans ​(S.mutans​) in the oral cavity and reducing dental plaque may be beneficial to health, the dossier in question did not demonstrate how the product, Gum Periodbalance, helped achieve this.

But Kummeter said that although BASF’s customers were responsible for proving the scientific efficacy of any given product containing pro-t-action to EFSA, the chemicals giant itself was confident about the ingredient’s marketability.

She said: “In order to pass EFSA's health claim submission process our customers will have to prove the efficacy ​[of their products] on a scientific basis.

“As the developer and producer of pro-t-action, BASF has already demonstrated the mode-of-action, product safety and efficacy in various publications, e.g. in the high-ranking Journal of Dental Research.

“Based upon this our customers will be able to file for EFSA's permission. In this process they will be fully supported by BASF.”

Probiotics for oral health

Dr Christine Lang from OrganoBalance told delegates at the International Probiotics Association’s (IPA) congress in Miami this year that the concept of probiotics for oral health centred on S.mutans ​as the main bacteria associated with tooth decay.

Lang explained that the bacteria bind to teeth forming dental plaque, which then converts sugar into acid that attacks tooth enamel.

Lang and her team screened over 700 Lactobacillus ​strains, and found that Lactobacillus paracasei ​aggregated best with S.mutans​, clumping bacteria together and allowing easy removal from the mouth via swallowing or rinsing.

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