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Never mind skin hydration, now it’s all about moisturizing the mouth!

By Simon Pitman , 12-Dec-2012
Last updated on 03-May-2013 at 11:02 GMT

Ashland Specialty Ingredients has developed and launched a new ingredient that is designed to help maintain moisture levels not for the skin, but for the mouth.

Called Lubrajel BA hydrogel, the oral care formulation is being targeted at makers of oral care products designed to tackle the issue of dry mouth, a small but growing niche category that has been developing around specific health care issues and medications.

“With the increasing use of medications around the world, a significant number of people now seek artificial saliva products to address dryness in the oral cavity,” said Ann Druffner, global marketing manager for Ashland Specialty Ingredients’ Oral Care business.

Growing incidence of dry mouth 

Dry mouth has been associated with medical treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, together with long list of specific drugs such as antidepressants, amphetamines and antihistamines.

In turn, many medical workers are reporting a growing incidence of the dry mouth condition, in turn putting pressure on formulation professionals to come up with an effective, inexpensive over-the-counter solution to this problem.

“Makers of oral care formulations are responding with a new generation of products designed to act as longer-lasting saliva substitutes. In supplying Lubrajel BA hydrogel, Ashland now provides a new ingredient to oral care formulators in their efforts to mimic natural saliva to provide improved mouth moisturization,” said Druffner.

Half of the formulation is made up of water, giving it targeted moisturization properties that provide hydration, mucoadhesion and lubricity – all specific symptoms arising from the dry mouth condition that is associated with a long list of medications.

Dry mouth can lead to more serious conditions

If left untreated, this condition can lead to a deterioration in general oral care health, particularly affecting the health of the gums and leaving the mouth more susceptible to bacterial infections such as gingivitis.

According to the Ashland R&D team, the hydrogel has shear-thinning properties that have been designed to resemble natural saliva, enabling the saliva’s viscosity  to adjust according to different activities, ranging from talking, to chewing and rest.

The company says that trials it has conducted using rheological measurements of model spray and mouth rinse formulations showed that the formulation performed similar to natural saliva under varying oral conditions.

Indeed, the trials even showed that the formulation helped maintain higher mucoadhesion than natural saliva, leading the research team to believe that the mouth will maintain longer hydration and relief from dry mouth conditions.

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