In July 2014 QMUL set up the company BioMin Technologies Ltd and developed the remineralising sensitivity toothpaste BioMinF®, which was launched in April 2016, based on special patented glasses that dissolve in saliva releasing calcium, phosphate and fluoride. Toothpastes are the first line of protection in tooth decay that costs the NHS in excess of £1 billion pa. BioMinF is the first practical example of slow release of fluoride from toothpastes. The glass particles in BiomInF® release fluoride over 10-12 hours and protects the tooth from decay. BioMinF® toothpastes are on sale in the UK, Germany, Australia, US, Canada, China and India. 90% of users surveyed had improved tooth sensitivity after using the product and several professionals are recommending it. Clinical trials have also showed better clinical effectiveness vs other sensitivity toothpastes.
The science: developing bioactive glasses for use in toothpaste
The research team, led by Professor Hill at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, has a world-leading understanding of bioactive glasses. Bioactive glasses dissolve in body fluids including saliva releasing calcium and phosphate ions which protect against tooth decay. The group have also investigated the ability of the glasses to occlude dentinal tubules and to reduce fluid flow through them. Fluid flow through these tubules is the cause of tooth pain associated with hot or cold stimulation. The exposure of these tubules may also lead to bacteria entering the tubules and facilitating tooth decay. In addition the group have investigated the abrasivity of bioactive glasses towards tooth enamel in terms of particle shape and size in order to be able to design a low abrasivity toothpaste.
Putting research into action: impact on oral care
Recognised international caries expert Ten Cate from The Netherlands has said: “For treatments to be effective longer than the brushing and salivary clearance fluoride needs to be deposited and slowly released.” Existing fluoride toothpastes use soluble sources of fluoride that are washed away by salivary flow and consequently higher concentrations of fluoride have to be used. The ability of the patented glasses, developed by Prof. Hill and his team, to stick to the teeth and slowly deliver fluoride has potential to provide much better protection against caries and a more effective delivery system that will reduce the risk of dental fluorosis.
BioMin surveyed 436 users of the toothpaste and found that users found the texture (63%), foaming (86%), flavour (87%) and price (72%) of the toothpaste acceptable. It reduced their tooth sensitivity and they found their teeth no better or worse in terms of cleanliness post-brushing (41%) or towards the end of the day (50%). BioMin have also gathered feedback from dental professionals about the toothpaste: ‘In addition to the clear efficacy of BioMin F, several dentists liked its provenance. One dentist was impressed that it had been developed by a university dental department and not a big multinational corporation, feeling that gave it both scientific credibility and less commercial impetus. He too has had excellent feedback from patients whose sensitivity was not improved by using any of the mainstream brands. Several dentists have quoted that 90% of patients have benefited from the product, and an increasing number of professionals are fully convinced of its efficacy.’