Whiter and brighter aren't enough anymore. Procter & Gamble Inc. is introducing a toothpaste that it says attacks the disease that causes most tooth loss.
The world's largest consumer products company said its Crest Gum Care, to be introduced Tuesday, is the first U.S. toothpaste "clinically proven to reduce gingivitis." It's aimed at the seven of 10 adults who suffer symptoms of gum disease.
The product is P&G's response to challenges to its No. 1 position in the $1.45-billion-a-year toothpaste industry by Colgate-Palmolive Co. and Unilever/Chesebrough-Pond's USA Co.
Whatever the effectiveness of the product, though, consumer perception may prove to be most important.
"I don't think the consumer knows what works and what doesn't," said analyst Lynn Hyman of Brown Bros. Harriman. "Most don't work, and they still sell. It depends on how they market it."
Dr. Susan Karabin, a periodontist, or specialist in gum disease, and assistant clinical professor at the Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery in New York City, said: "The only important ingredient is fluoride. The rest is window dressing."