What's the difference between Colgate Total Gum Defense toothpaste and regular Total?

I was in the pharmacy recently and saw that Colgate has added a Total Gum Defense line extension to its already large set of Total products. But this product makes exactly the same set of claims as the regular Total –“Helps prevent: Cavities, Gingivitis, Plaque. Fights Tartar, Freshens Breath, Whitens” –and lists the same active and inactive ingredients. Then yesterday I was at the dentist’s office, where there was a big basket of Total Gum Defense samples. I asked a periodontist there if there was any difference and she said, “Not as far as I know.”

I poked around the Colgate website and couldn’t find any differences mentioned there. (Could be hiding somewhere but it wasn’t apparent.) I did find it instructive that the site lacks the ability to compare the various Total products head-to-head, probably because the main differences are how they’re positioned to the market rather than anything substantive.

Finally I called Colgate customer service to ask my question. Judging from how quickly they came up with an answer, this is clearly a question they’ve been receiving a lot. The rep pointed to two differences:

  • The formulation is milder –using a different type of hydrated silica
  • The flavor is less minty –presumably making it more tolerable for those with sensitive gums

I guess it’s enough of a difference to be plausible, and maybe labeling regulations prevent them from being more explicit. But my guess is that Colgate Total Gum Defense is just a typical consumer product line extension, designed to grab a little more shelf space, appeal to a few more consumers, maintain price premiums, and keep generics at bay.

July 1, 2011

4 thoughts on “What's the difference between Colgate Total Gum Defense toothpaste and regular Total?”

  1. I love that they have no “compare” feature on their website. I believe your reasoning to also be dead on…. it’s just positioning in the market and branding….

  2. There is no big diffrence, they just make people feel “WOW, new Colgate, it is probably better than the last one, I should buy it!”

  3. I have used gum defense for a couple years now. One time I couldn’t find gum defense on the shelf so I grabbed one that touted “deep cleaning”. Midway through the tube I had a slight pink to my rinse. Found gum defense and I feel the difference and no more bleeding gums. So there is something. Maybe it is the milder formula. It works for me, I am 65 and still have all my teeth except for 3 I lost when I was 16. I have used the colgate total tooth paste line for at least 9 years.

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