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Caffeinated toothpaste will bring brushing buzz

Forget the potential of mint to wake you up in the morning. Power Energy Toothpaste plans to deliver "the rush while you brush" with straight-up caffeine.

Michael Franco
Freelancer Michael Franco writes about the serious and silly sides of science and technology for CNET and other pixel and paper pubs. He's kept his fingers on the keyboard while owning a B&B in Amish country, managing an eco-resort in the Caribbean, sweating in Singapore, and rehydrating (with beer, of course) in Prague. E-mail Michael.
Michael Franco
3 min read
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"Power Toothpaste gives you a rush while you brush," is the slogan of this new kind of tooth cleaner that promises to get you going in the morning.

Power Toothpaste

From the category of "what took so long," a company has finally decided to merge two traditional morning substances: toothpaste and caffeine. The wonder gel is called Power Energy Toothpaste, and it's set to launch via a crowdfunding campaign in January on Indiegogo.

The idea is that instead of spending all that time making drip coffee in the morning and then waiting for it to deliver its jolt after you drink it down, you can get a much quicker buzz when you smear the caffeine around on your gums while brushing. Plus, there are no unsightly coffee stains to deal with, no coffee breath and no coffee mugs to clean up.

The makers of Power Energy Toothpaste say the pasty elixir will contain about 80 milligrams of caffeine per milliliter of toothpaste, which they say is a little more than people would normally squirt out onto their brushes. That amount of caffeine is just slightly under what you find in an 8-ounce cup of coffee.

As for just how effective this could be, I turned to Boston University's School of Dental Medicine, reaching out to Louis Brown, an assistant professor, and Varvara Blidman, a clinical instructor. I also contacted James Borowiec and Erika Bach, professors in New York University's biochemistry and molecular pharmacology departments. None was immediately able to comment.

Turning to Google, I was able to find this old study that said an oral solution of caffeine was very quickly absorbed through the lining of the mouth. There are also caffeinated mints out there that get excellent reviews from buyers on Amazon, even though they only have 7 milligrams of caffeine per mint. Going by that, it seems like the toothpaste could have a shot at giving you a boost, but as with all things crowdfunding, and especially those that promise a biological impact, proceed with caution.

As for the safety of smearing a bunch of caffeine around in your mouth, co-founder of Power Toothpaste, Dan Meropol, says his product is classified as a cosmetic under Food and Drug Administration regulations. That means it'll be at least as safe as your lipstick or skin cream. It's also not the first cosmetic to contain caffeine. This caffeinated shower soap from ThinkGeek promises to get your eyes open in the morning with an extra dose of the drug.

"Too many people aren't taking care of their teeth, even when they know they should," Meropol said in a statement. "At Power Toothpaste we believe a big part of this is that oral care hasn't been exciting for decades, and the products that Big Toothpaste is offering just aren't good enough. Our mission is to make oral care fun and exciting again, and above all else, to get people brushing."

You have to admit that it's probably also a pretty good idea to sell a product that has an addictive substance in it. That's certainly one way to ensure repeat business. Power Energy Toothpaste will be for sale in mid-January on Indiegogo for $15 (about £10, AU$20) per tube with free shipping. "It's a little more than you'd normally pay for a standard tube of toothpaste," Meropol said, "but an incredible value when you consider that you get three months of brushing (90 brushes) from a single tube. Just compare that to the cost of a morning coffee."

Update, 8:35 p.m. PT, November 30: Meropol contacted CNET to say the Indiegogo campaign for Power Energy Toothpaste has been delayed until January.