NAD Refers Advertising for Xlear’s ‘Spry Dental Defense System’ to FTC for Further Review

New York, NY – Dec. 20, 2013 – The National Advertising Division has referred advertising claims made by Xlear LLC for its “Spry Dental Defense System” to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for further review after the company failed to acknowledge NAD’s recommendations.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

As part of its routine monitoring program and in conjunction with NAD’s initiative with the Council for Responsible Nutrition designed to expand the review of advertising claims for dietary supplements, NAD requested that the advertiser provide substantiation for claims made in Internet advertising, including:

  •  ”Protect your teeth with scientifically-proven all-natural xylitol.”
  •  ”Xylitol is a natural-occurring sugar that research has shown can dramatically improve the health of your teeth and mouth.”
  •  ”It’s all-natural and safe for use with all ages!”

Xylitol, a sweetener made from plant fibers, inhibits the growth of the oral bacteria that cause cavities. The advertiser’s Spry Dental Defense System consists of xylitol-added gums, mints, toothpastes and mouthwashes for adults and children in various flavors. The advertiser produces xylitol toothpastes with and without fluoride. The advertiser also has a line of xylitol gels for toddlers and children.

In response to NAD’s inquiry, Xlear submitted a 2010 report from the American Dental Association that concluded children five to sixteen years old and adults should chew gum or consume mints with xylitol after every meal to reduce caries.

The advertiser also submitted a 2007 dissertation from the Umea University in Sweden that concluded that six grams of xylitol a day reduced the amount of visible plaque; that xylitol products that actively stimulates saliva secretion, such as chewing gums, are the first choice; daily intake should be fractioned at least three times over the day and that the chewing period should not be shorter than ten minutes. The advertiser also provided the American Academy Paediatric Dentistry’s Policy on the Use of Xylitol in Caries Prevention (2010), which indicated the AAPD’s support for the use of xylitol as part of a strategy to prevent caries.

Following its review of the evidence in the record, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its claim “protect your teeth with scientifically-proven all-natural xylitol” or modify the claim to better reflect its evidence by disclosing the (1) xylitol gum should be used conjunction with fluoridated toothpaste, (2) xylitol gum is only recommended for healthy children at high risk for caries, ages five to sixteen years old and (3) adults who are at a high risk for caries. NAD further recommended that advertiser disclose that the only proven anti-caries benefit of xylitol mints is for healthy children five to sixteen-years old, at high risk for caries, who consume five to eight grams of xylitol per day.

Because the evidence did demonstrate the benefits of xylitol in toothpaste, mouthwash or gel products, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim “protect your teeth with scientifically-proven all-natural xylitol,” when it appears in advertisements for toothpaste or mouthwash. Further, NAD recommended the advertiser discontinue the claim “protect your teeth with scientifically-proven all-natural xylitol,” or refrain from making any product performance claim with regard to its children’s gel line of products.

NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its claims that use of xylitol products “dramatically” improve the health of your teeth” because there is no evidence in the record that the health results from consuming xylitol are dramatic.

Finally, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue claims that xylitol is “safe for all ages” or qualify its claims to note that xylitol gum is safe for “neurologically healthy children 5 years and older who are willing and able to chew for an extended period,” who should be supervised when chewing gum.

Xlear failed to submit an advertiser’s statement to indicate that it would either comply with NAD’s recommendations or appeal the matter to the National Advertising Review Board (NARB). Pursuant to its procedures, NAD has referred the matter to the FTC for further review.