Choosing natural toothpaste, mouthwash and other oral care products may seem like a no-brainer for health-conscious consumers. However, the natural oral care category has faced some challenges, largely because early product flops left a bad taste—quite literally—in people’s mouths, according to market research firm Mintel.
Still, there’s no doubt that oral care is an important category—and increasingly so, as more research links gum and teeth health to whole-body health. Good oral hygiene habits can help keep bacterial infections from starting in the mouth and spreading elsewhere in the body. After all, science shows there is a link between periodontal disease (which can stem from severe inflammation of gum tissue caused by bacterial buildup) and cardiovascular disease.
Thankfully, today’s consumers are paying more attention to oral hygiene overall, and many are either seeking out natural options for the first time or giving this category another look. As proof, SPINS reports that year-over-year sales of natural oral care products increased by an impressive 26.7 percent in 2014. Why the sudden surge? The new generation of products taste good, freshen breath, and fight bacteria and plaque with innovative natural ingredients instead of caustic synthetics. They rely on xylitol, neem, sea salt, peppermint and even cocoa in lieu of triclosan, alcohol, artificial colors and fragrance, and other potentially harmful ingredients found in conventional oral care products. Natural brands are also appealing to health-minded consumers by using USDA Organic ingredients, becoming Non-GMO Project Verified and catering to special diets including vegan, gluten free and Paleo.
Further fueling innovation in this category: alternative delivery systems based on traditional oral care practices—think tooth salts and brushing powders. Such products may be new to many customers, but natural brands are taking a leap of faith. So now’s the perfect time to freshen up your oral care selections and consumer education initiatives.