Toothpaste as a Vehicle

Merriam Webster defines vehicle as an agent of transmission: a carrier. A bus is a vehicle for transporting persons across a route and delivering them to a destination. In the world of pharmaceuticals, drug delivery systems can be utilized as vehicles to transport treatments (e.g., encapsulated drugs in carrier vehicles like liposomes activated by focused ultrasound),31 often in ways that are less harmful than systemic drug administration and more targeted to the area of concern.

Toothpastes are ideal and cost-effective vehicles. They can readily deliver oral therapeutic ingredients, and they are already in nearly universal daily use. If all that was available were basic pastes with only the core inactive ingredients listed in the previous section of the course, patients would no doubt use them versus ‘dry brushing’.15,16 However, they would be missing out on the full potential and ultimate value of a dentifrice: its utility as a delivery mechanism for therapeutic ingredients that can significantly impact their dentition and oral health by preventing disease, treating conditions, and/or providing cosmetic agents like whiteners that consumers are increasingly seeking.

Fluoride was the first – and remains the classic – example of harnessing the power of toothbrushing with toothpaste to serve as an oral health active agent delivery system. Unlike other challenges to sustain behavior modification or habit formation strategies, nearly everyone is already using toothpaste – from children through seniors – and thus it is the ideal vehicle to deliver topical fluoride on a routine basis. No added product or step is needed.

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