The Chocolate Cult: Why Put Chocolate in Your Toothpaste?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Why Put Chocolate in Your Toothpaste?

Sisters and Brothers, months ago when I first heard about Theodent, a toothpaste made from chocolate, I just had to look into it.  The company was very generous and sent us samples to try and you'll see that feature on Saturday.    Their project manager, Jantzen Hubbard, was willing to answer some questions about the product so here is our email interview with him.  I will be trying each of the three tubes of toothpaste they sent us for 4-6 weeks and then doing a feature for each one -- how it worked, if my teeth feel different, those sorts of general questions.

Enjoy our interview and please do leave comments or questions you may have.

In your own words would you explain to our readers what exactly Theodent is?

Theodent is a revolutionary new line of toothpastes that offer a fluoride alternative called "Rennou." Rennou is a blend of minerals, the main one of which is a compound called theobromine, found naturally in chocolate, or more accurately the cacao plant. Theodent uses Rennou to build new enamel in sheeting layers on the surface of human teeth, something commercial toothpastes have never been able to do before. 

Several member's of your company have backgrounds ranging from DDS to professors and researchers in the fields of medicine and mineralogy.  How did the idea of using cacao components in toothpaste develop? Was it from a medical or business perspective?

The original research started in the 1980s in a study of the effects of caffeine on prenatal bone/teeth growth purely from a medical perspective. Due in part to this research, we now know that it is not safe for pregnant women to ingest caffeine in the form of coffee, soft drinks, ect. because it stunts bone/teeth growth in the growing neonate. Theobromine, the primary component of Rennou found in chocolate,  and theophylline (found in teas) are similar in structure to caffeine. Originally the hypothesis was that this whole family of molecules, called methylzanthines, would have the same deleterious effect as caffeine. As theobromine was studied in this capacity, as a happy accident, the opposite proved to be true! It had an amazing effect on tooth enamel. Human enamel is comprised of a mineral called hydroxyapatite. Once it was noted that theobromine had a positive effect on growing and strengthening enamel, some mineralogists were enlisted to study exactly what has happening to enamel when theobromine was topically applied. Dr. Sadeghpour, our current CEO, was the first to compare theobromine's effect vs. fluoride. He completed his PhD studying this topic in 2007, and founded Theodent shortly after based on the results published in his thesis. After a few years of product development, he along with his team brought Theodent to the masses. 

How long did it take to conduct the research that led to Theodent?

Given that the research started in the 80s, about 30 years. It took place primarily at the Louisiana State University Dental School, University of New Orleans, and Tulane University.

Did your testing include both adults and children?  Was there a difference in the benefits of this product?

 Though Theodent's research was primarily focused on adults, children stand to benefit even more than full grown adults. Theodent's effect is topical. It builds stronger enamel on the surface of teeth. If a child uses Theodent while his or her teeth are developing, then stronger enamel can be encouraged throughout the tooth structure vs. just the surface. As we only get one set of adult teeth, having stronger and harder hydroxyapatite comprising the developing tooth can lead to a lifetime of healthier and harder enamel.  However, Theodent Kids chocolate flavored toothpaste is specially formulated for the sensitive palates of youngsters to maximize the amount of time they spend brushing.

I notice that you have three versions of this toothpaste.  Could you briefly explain the differences between them?

Theodent Classic: Whitening Crystal Mint is our flagship product and retails around the United States from $10.99 to $14.99. 

Theodent Kids: Whitening Chocolate Chip is our newest product marketed toward "kids and adults young at heart," has a delicious chocolate flavor and has really been turning heads as a safe-to-swallow kids toothpaste. It's pricing is the same as Theodent Classic. 

Theodent 300: (also Whitening Crystal Mint flavor) is our super potent enamel building/strengthening toothpaste (though still safe for daily use) and is comparable (though more effective) to a commercial in-office fluoride treatment. It retails mainly in dentist offices and high end boutiques for $99.99. 

We have looked at products made from almost any part of the cocoa bean or tree that you can imagine ranging from candy and baked goods to lip balm, soap, and paper.  From what part of the cocoa bean or tree do you find the chemical now called Rennou?

The part of the cacao plant that contains the highest concentration of Theobromine is called its "nibs" which reside in the interior of the cacao pod. Cacao nibs are also the part of the plant that is refined into commercial chocolate. 

Does Theodent have calories?

Negligible if at all. We only recommend a very small ribbon of Theodent to be used in brushing. 

Does Theodent smell or taste like chocolate?

Currently, only Theodent Kids has a chocolate flavor/aroma. Both Theodent Classic and 300 have a mild spearmint flavor. 

Finally is using Theodent the same as using other toothpastes?  Do you recommend using it as often and in the same quantities as the most common toothpaste?

Theodent is definitely raising the bar for toothpastes. Its capacity to build new enamel is something perviously thought to be impossible. We do recommend use twice daily, just like normal toothpastes. However, there is a slight difference in the way we recommend brushing with Theodent. We recommend that one brushes with Theodent as normal, spitting and rinsing as normal. Then we recommend what we call a "finishing brush." After the first brush/rinse/spit, we then recommend brushing a second time, spitting out the excess, but NOT rinsing. The longer the residual foam stays on the surface of teeth, the better. Longer exposure of the Theodent foam to teeth's surface invites a more dramatic effect in smoothness and hardness, particularly as one is going to bed and not planning on eating or drinking anything else. Also, our research suggests that Rennou works in significantly smaller doses than a similar amount of a fluoride toothpaste. Our beautiful tube has a honed tip that dispenses a clean ribbon of toothpaste vs. the globs of toothpaste normal tubes dispense. We recommend about a half inch ribbon of Theodent be used per brushing. 

What other questions do you have, Sisters and Brothers, about Theodent?

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