A proposed class action lawsuit challenges The Procter & Gamble Company’s representation that a variety of Crest toothpaste can repair gums and enamel.
Contrary to how the product is represented, P&G’s Crest Gum & Enamel Repair toothpaste can only help control, reduce or prevent gingivitis, and does nothing to “repair” gums and enamel, the 10-page lawsuit alleges.
“Since both gums and enamel can be repaired, reasonable consumers—and especially 3 out of 4 American adults with gingivitis—would naturally expect the Product to be capable of repairing gums,” the complaint says. “However, receding gums do not grow back; once the gum tissue has pulled back and away from teeth, it’s gone for good.”
Certain types of bacteria in the mouth create plaque, which can cause an infection in the area where the teeth meet the gums, the complaint begins. If left untreated, gums can become inflamed and bleed during brushing, and gingivitis can advance to periodontitis, a condition that causes the gums to pull away from teeth to form spaces, or pockets, that become infected, the lawsuit says.
Per the case, P&G represents Crest Gum & Enamel Repair toothpaste with statements that include “Fluoride Toothpaste for Anticavity and Antigingivitis,” “Clinically Proven to Help Reverse Gingivitis,” “Repairs Weakened Enamel” and “Intensive Clean.” Coupled with these representations, the very name of the product is misleading to consumers in that buyers “cannot be expected to know that the Product will be unable to repair gums,” a fact that the FDA has cautioned manufacturers against relaying, the complaint alleges.
“Defendant misrepresented the Product through affirmative statements and omissions,” the lawsuit contests. “Defendant sold more units of the Product and at higher prices than it would have in the absence of the misrepresentations and omissions, resulting in additional profits at the expense of consumers like plaintiff.”
Even the presence of stannous fluoride in the Crest toothpaste allows the defendant to claim only that the product “helps interfere with the harmful effects of plaque associated with gingivitis,” the suit says. Semantically, the statement “Gums & Enamel Repair” runs contrary to the FDA stance that no over-the-counter oral care product can help repair gums, the complaint states. To deal with gum-repair issues, the only option is cosmetic dental treatment, according to the case.
As the lawsuit tells it, Procter & Gamble “took advantage of consumers’ cognitive shortcuts” made at the point of sale, not to mention their trust in the company, by claiming the Crest toothpaste can repair gums and enamel.
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