Our Thoughts

//Our next generation products Pulze+iD, blu and zoneX don’t stain teeth

Posted 18/11/2022 10:51am


As a consumer-led and focused organisation, Imperial Brands is aware many adult smokers and Next Generation Product (NGP) users are interested in how our potentially harm reduced products also compare with combustible cigarettes in terms of certain cosmetic endpoints. 

Positive news could encourage them to try – or even switch – from cigarettes to NGP, helping to facilitate potential tobacco harm reduction (THR).

A specific focus area our consumer insights highlighted was teeth staining. We therefore collaborated with an oral care and hygiene specialist to determine the impact of the following products on tooth enamel: 

The study took place over two weeks. 

Teeth were donated by consenting adults1 and sectioned into ‘blocks’ to create uniform samples. To better replicate realistic in-mouth conditions, the samples were also initially immersed in human saliva to form a protective layer on the enamel. All samples were then photographed and colour measured2.

Scientists created samples of solutions exposed to each product using phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) as a carrier, deemed representative of product use. A negative control was also created, simply consisting of PBS.

The first interesting discovery took place during this preparation phase. Nicotine levels were measured in each sample and then diluted to ensure uniform nicotine concentrations.

Click on the image to see a photograph of the actual test samples.

As the different colours above illustrate3, it’s clear from the various diluted samples that nicotine is not driving their distinct appearances – challenging the long-held belief by many, including the public health organisation ASH – that nicotine is responsible for teeth staining.

All teeth were then immersed in their respective PBS solutions, with their colour re-measured at the mid-point (7 days) and end of the study (14 days). 

The results below4 clearly demonstrated red wine, coffee and cigarettes have a notable impact on teeth discolouration. Conversely, Skruf tobacco snus, zoneX tobacco-free pouches, Pulze+iD and blu didn’t stain teeth under the test conditions5.

Click on the image to see photography of the representative results.

“For decades the idea has persisted that nicotine stains teeth,” reflected Matt Stevenson, Investigative & Mechanistic Toxicology Senior Manager at Imperial Brands. “Our study clearly busts this myth, instead demonstrating it’s other chemicals found in cigarette smoke – created through the process of harmful tobacco combustion – that are responsible.

“So, smoking cigarettes stains teeth but using tobacco snus or NGP doesn’t, which is great news for current adult smokers who are contemplating switching.” 

David O’Neill, OND Category Director at Imperial Brands added: “Our consumer insights clearly suggest adult smokers don’t just expect NGP to be potentially harm reduced, but also offer additional benefits including – for instance – cosmetic or lifestyle elements.

“Through research like this teeth staining study, we see fresh and exciting opportunities to help make a meaningful contribution to harm reduction by increasing adult smoker acceptance of NGP, boosting switch rates and making a positive impact on wider public health.”

You are free to share this content with credit to Imperial Brands under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0) license.

  1. Donations were compliant with the Human Tissue Act.
  2. Using a CM-700d Konica Minolta Spectrophotometer.
  3. Images are illustrative of the colours recorded during the study. The colour of each PBS sample did not necessarily correlate with their respective teeth staining potential.
  4. Images are illustrative of the colours recorded during the study.
  5. The colours of the teeth samples in this study are the result of intense exposure to PBS and don’t necessarily reflect the colours product users’ teeth will become.
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