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Here’s a sweet new business: toothpaste made from cocoa extract

A new business formation this month has the potential to raise the interest of children everywhere: cocoa toothpaste. Although it doesn’t taste like chocolate, Theodent contains a blend of cocoa extract and other minerals to strengthen and harden tooth enamel. It contains no fluoride, which has been associated with troubling health conditions such as thyroid disorders and bone disease.

The toothpaste, developed by university researchers in Louisiana, was launched at a news conference last week. But its beginnings stretch back to the 1980s, when one of the company’s co-founders began studying the effects of nutritional ingredients on pre-natal teeth. Recognizing the significance of the discovery, he continued his research as part of his doctoral thesis, testing it on human teeth and doing comparisons between the cocoa extract and fluoride. His initial findings held true: Cocoa strengthens and enlarges the crystals that make up the tooth, making the enamel more robust. Fluoride, meanwhile, strengthens teeth by sticking to and incorporating itself into the tooth.

Theodent LLC is housed in the New Orleans BioInnovation Center, a $47 million business incubator focused on developing local bioscience industry based on university research. The center is just 7 months old, and Theodent is one of the first of its tenants to convert a scientific discovery into a commercial product. Theodent is now available online and at Whole Foods stores around the country.

But making that leap was no small feat. The company contracted with companies across the country to put its product together, from tube to cardboard box, and its scientist founders admitted they were frustrated by the multiple iterations and refining necessary to develop a product, not to mention the distribution and marketing. They’re now working on raising more money to expand their product line, which could include injecting a kid-friendly version that does taste like chocolate. It’s all part of getting both kids and parents more excited about brushing their teeth.

As these researchers discovered, the process of developing a product and taking it to market can be extremely complicated. A law firm experienced in business formation can be very helpful in guiding you through the process of getting your product from the lab to the store shelf.

Source: Nola.com, “New toothpaste derived from cocoa extract heralds sweet potential for N.O.,” Kimberly Quillen, Jan. 1, 2012

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