Interviews

"Many say they have fewer mouth ulcers"

Kriens, 20 February 2014 - Swiss brand Curaprox now has three toothpastes in its range and all of them are manufactured in Switzerland. What is so special about these toothpastes? The developer of these toothpastes, Dr. Matthias Mütsch, sc. nat. ETH, answers our questions.

Dr. Matthias Mütsch, sc. nat. ETH and Head of Research & Development at Curaden International AG, presents the Enzycal toothpastes with owner and CEO Ueli Breitschmid (right).

Mr. Mütsch As Head of Research and Development, you have developed new toothpastes for Curaden International AG. What is so special about these toothpastes?
The toothpastes represent a family. What they all have in common is that they contain an enzyme system that strengthens the saliva’s natural defence mechanism against bacteria. We also consider it important that our toothpastes contain no artificial ingredients that give rise to health or environmental concerns. For example, we never use sodium lauryl sulphate, i.e. SLS. Nor do our products contain any plastic particles as recently discussed in the media.

You mentioned an enzyme system. What is that?
The lactoperoxidase system consists of three different enzymes, which correspond with each other. The most important is the lactoperoxidase enzyme, an enzyme obtained from milk. All of these enzymes are also present in our saliva. They produce substances that are harmful to the bacteria in the mouth. Alongside mechanical cleaning with a toothbrush, the enzymes help to keep bacteria at bay to prevent any decay.

It cannot be so easy to keep the enzymes active. How do you do that?
That is correct. Enzymes are present in large numbers and in a wide variety of functions in our body. They maintain our chemical balance. Since they are unstable, they need to be continuously formed. The first major challenge for us is to use enzymes with long-term stability for a toothpaste. We achieve this by using various tricks. The basic structures of the enzymes, stabilizers, choosing the right pH and the possible absence of oxygen play an important role. Of course, it is also crucial that the enzymes are handled gently during the manufacturing process. Enzymes are heat-sensitive proteins.

You said that your toothpastes are SLS-free. What is the problem with SLS?
SLS is one of the most widely used foaming agents. Many users appreciate and expect a toothpaste to foam. This is where SLS works well. However, SLS is also a strong emulsifier that can disrupt biological structures and can even kill oral mucosa cells. SLS is said to promote mouth ulcers to some degree. Reason enough for us to dispense with this substance. There are less harmful substances that are just as good. But it is a fact that our Enzycal toothpastes do not foam strongly. The feedback is also amazing: many people say they have fewer mouth ulcers and these few mouth ulcers even heal much faster.

Yet SLS is also a fairly strong tenside, in other words a cleaning agent. Some people claim that it is used in industry to degrease machinery, for example, or to clean oil-stained garage floors. Is that true?
I cannot confirm whether SLS is actually used in industry for such purposes. But, yes, SLS is not only a good emulsifier, it is certainly a good degreasing agent. Based on its chemistry, SLS can be used for such purposes. Its properties are technically so perfect that SLS is very versatile in its uses. However, I think that using it for the oral cavity is going too far. Anyone suffering from oral mucosa irritation, for example mouth ulcers, should try an SLS-free toothpaste. Many people find it beneficial.

People are spoilt for choice: you now have three SLS-free toothpastes in your range. What are the differences?
There is an Enzycal 1450, an Enzycal 950 and an Enzycal Zero. All these designations refer to the fluoride content of the toothpaste. Enzycal 1450 logically contains 1,450 ppm fluoride, that is the concentration unit for fluoride. With this concentration, the toothpaste is like many others. This toothpaste is a standard toothpaste for an average consumer. The enzymes enhance the fluoride effect. Fluoride has established itself over the past decades as a proven remedy against tooth decay. However, it must also be said that fluoride is not something that is physiological. Enzycal 950 is our recommendation. Its somewhat reduced fluoride content is justified if a good, mechanical cleaning technique is used for ideal oral health. Our other products such as our ultra soft toothbrushes and interdental brushes support this goal. Enzycal Zero, which contains no fluoride, is a special toothpaste for special needs. Zero is intended for customers who want no fluoride for reasons of principle. For these customers, fluoride is poison and they prefer only natural products in their lives. However, Zero is also for patients who are being treated with homeopathy and cannot use regular toothpastes because of the usual flavours. But I should also say that, without fluoride, the risk of caries is significantly higher. This is because very good oral hygiene is essential. In addition, we are also particularly strong in exports. There are also countries such as Russia that fluoridise their drinking water. In these countries, there is one school of thought that believes a fluoride toothpaste is no longer necessary.

You have chosen sodium fluoride instead of amine fluoride. Why?
Unlike other companies, we have no affinity for amine fluoride and it is irrelevant from a scientific perspective, which fluoride is used. So we chose simple sodium fluoride.

Curaprox is known as an effective remedy for gingivitis, i.e. against gum inflammation. But now none of Enzycal toothpastes is aimed at gingivitis. Why is that?
This has to do with our history. Our focus is on mechanical dental prophylaxis, i.e. with cleaning aids such as toothbrushes and interdental brushes. This is based on the fact that mechanical cleaning is the only way to keep the teeth and the gum line clean. Toothpastes are not needed, at most as a vehicle for fluoride or a pleasant taste in the mouth. No toothpaste can prevent gingivitis – only toothbrushes, interdental brushes and/or flossing can do that.

Why do you still manufacture toothpaste?
It’s simply pleasant to brush with toothpaste and many toothpastes have ingredients that are at least questionable, SLS, for example, or triclosan. Curaprox is the oral care specialist that supplies customers with everything that is safe and not harmful. We even provide a specific improvement, for example, the lactoperoxidase system or the choice of sodium fluoride.

Why do you manufacture these toothpastes in Switzerland?
We are a Swiss company and our industry’s quality awareness is important to us. We export to a large number of countries around the world and our high, typically Swiss quality is appreciated everywhere. This is a success factor for us, particularly abroad.


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