Look for the Seal

February 4, 2014

Dr. Peter Doig

The clinical activities of the dental profession fall into 2 categories: prevention and intervention. Dentists and members of our oral health care team have long stressed the benefits of oral disease prevention through proper oral hygiene. We have promoted the idea that good oral hygiene reduces the need for interventions to maintain good oral health in the face of disease.

All dental practitioners spend a considerable amount of their practice time communicating with patients about preventive measures. These discussions invariably lead to questions about products and methods to ensure good oral hygiene: “Which toothpaste should I use?”, “Will whitening toothpaste really whiten my teeth?” or “Does mouthwash actually do what the manufacturers claim?”

Patients are often confused and concerned about which products to use as the advertising industry can be full of suspicious claims. How are consumers supposed to know which claims to believe? Patients turn to their dentists for advice, looking for credible, science-based guidance. But for dentists, staying up to date on the vast number of oral health products in the marketplace and the validity of their therapeutic claims is a tough task.

Throughout my career, my response to patients with questions about oral health care products has always been, “Look for the Seal.”  I have been confident advising my patients that if the product carried the CDA Seal, they could be assured that the product would live up to its claim. I simply wouldn’t have the confidence to say the same about products without the Seal.  Understanding what the Seal represents for consumers reassures not only my patients, but also me as a dentist, that it’s possible to make informed choices about oral hygiene products.

The CDA Seal Program started close to 40 years ago as the Consumer Product Recognition program. Originally, the program recognised only dentifrices but it has since expanded to include 14 different product categories and almost 100 products. Its purpose—to provide independent validation of the health benefit claims for oral care products—establishes the Seal as a valuable public education tool and a reliable resource for oral health care providers.

Recently there has been a decline in the perceived value of the Seal within the dental marketplace. For manufacturers, the program requirements were cumbersome and the fee structure did not fit with modern product development and promotion practices. This prompted CDA to revise the Seal Program to ensure it is useful, relevant and retains its value and visibility. For example, the administrative burden associated with applying for the Seal has been reduced by better aligning the requirements with those of Health Canada. CDA has modified the Seal logo and its accompanying statement now reads, “Oral health benefits validated by CDA.”

CDA will be vigorously promoting the revised Seal Program to the dental industry, emphasizing the value of independent validation. It’s also important for dentists to recognize the benefits of the Seal for their patients and themselves. For decades, consumers have looked to the Seal to make product choices they can trust, backed by the credibility of a trusted symbol. I hope that Canadian dentists will continue to direct patients to “Look for the Seal” for years to come.

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