Wither the ADA's blessing?
September 18, 2008 1:45 PM   Subscribe

Why do Crest, Colgate, etc. no longer display the ADA seal of approval?

Since the '70s, almost all toothpaste brands have sported a "Seal of Approval" from the American Dental Association. I've been accustomed to the cute little ADA logo appearing on all the boxes in my store's toothpaste aisle. In my head, the seal means "Has fluoride and won't dissolve your enamel."

Recently, I noticed that Crest and Colgate and most other brands no longer display the ADA seal/logo on their packaging. I'm not sure when this happened. AIM still displays the seal, but I could not find any others.

Is it possible that the ADA has withdrawn their approval of these brands? Or do the toothpaste companies feel that the ADA seal is no longer necessary or useful?
posted by bruceo to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Aha! Here you go:
The Seal is your assurance that the toothpaste has met the ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness. You can trust that claims made on packaging and labeling for ADA-Accepted products are true, because companies must verify all of the information to the ADA—even claims for which a product might not be Accepted. For example, although the ADA gives its Seal to toothpastes that can show they are effective in reducing cavities, the ADA would not give its Seal because a toothpaste is low in abrasion. Nonetheless, before a company could make a “low in abrasion” claim, it would need to provide supporting data to the ADA.
So for a toothpaste to get the ADA seal, the toothpaste company has to prove that ALL of the claims on the tube are true. Nowadays toothpastes claim to do so many things that it's probably harder to get the seal.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:55 PM on September 18, 2008 [3 favorites]

Metroid Baby is correct... It's because every toothpaste claims to whiten your teeth, straighten them, and also to "provide a minty fresh mouth" and make tens of other claims in a glittery font. And the ADA can't really rate the minty-ness of the toothpaste, and the whitening claims are similarly marketroid b.s.
posted by zpousman at 2:12 PM on September 18, 2008

Yes, the plainer varieties (like Colgate's "Fluoride Toothpaste, Cavity Protection Great Regular Flavor") still have the ADA seal.
posted by needs more cowbell at 2:24 PM on September 18, 2008

So basically, the rise of marketing has a inverse correlation with approval from a legitimate and trusted medical association. Interesting...
posted by hal_c_on at 2:45 PM on September 18, 2008 [3 favorites]

the rise of marketing has a inverse correlation with approval

They were always marketed. This is more like the rise of hyper-marketing.
posted by goethean at 3:10 PM on September 18, 2008

And the ADA seal is marketing, but when everyone has the seal, it's not differentiating anymore. So they're choosing to differentiate themselves with the hard-to-prove benefits instead of with the same seal everyone else has (and no-one cares about as much as the hard-to-prove benefits).
posted by mendel at 4:00 PM on September 18, 2008

FWIW, I just noticed this on Tom's Natural toothpaste as well; the children's toothpaste makes few claims and has the seal, and the adult's toothpaste makes few claims...and doesn't have the seal.
posted by davejay at 7:19 PM on September 18, 2008

As someone who works for one of the big soap 'n toothpaste Co's, I think mendel's on the right track.

I've gathered that it's really expensive, and takes a really long time, to get official approval in general (FDA, etc.). Sometimes it's simply impractical even though a product might be worthy of it. Innovation happens so fast now and there's great pressure to put new product on the shelf quickly.

Also, I imagine it might have something to do with IP issues now that these companies are chasing after all of these new benefits and developing their own technologies to deliver them.
posted by pearl228 at 9:12 PM on September 18, 2008

great work, mb. and in ten minutes!
posted by bruceo at 9:36 PM on September 18, 2008

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