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Challenge Seeks Fluoride Activity, Disposition in Brushing

Toothpaste on brush

(Sherman Geronimo-Tan/Flickr)

2 May 2014. A new challenge at InnoCentive is looking for detailed answers to questions about the way fluoride works in cleaning teeth once it leaves the toothbrush. The challenge has a total purse of $20,000 and a deadline of 29 May 2014.

InnoCentive in Waltham, Massachusetts conducts open-innovation, crowdsourcing competitions for corporate and organization sponsors. In this challenge, the sponsor is not disclosed. InnoCentive calls this type of competition an ideation challenge, where the question aims to generate new ideas, similar to an online brainstorming session, requiring a written proposal of about two pages.

For this competition, the sponsor is seeking a more detailed understanding of the processes behind the release of fluoride from toothpaste and its interactions with other substances in toothpaste and biological activity in the mouth. World Health Organization notes that fluoride in small quantities, such as in toothpaste, reduces tooth decay on a wide scale among both children and adults. Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel and helps reverse early stages of tooth decay by remineralizing areas where decay begins.

While these basic processes are understood, the sponsor of this challenge would like a more detailed understanding of the way fluoride works, to make it possible to measure its activity in the mouth. The goal of this analysis is to enable the sponsor to evaluate new ideas for products that boost the effects of fluoride toothpaste, including the ability to quantify the interactions of fluoride with other substances on dental surfaces.

The sponsor is interested in chemical interactions between fluoride and other materials in toothpaste, such as abrasives, surfactants, polymers, and silica. In addition, the sponsor wants to learn more about the reactions of fluoride when encountering plaque, carbohydrates, and enzymes in the mouth.

The competition will award a total of $20,000 in prizes, with at least one award no less than $7,500 and no other awards smaller than $5,000. All participants in the challenge will be notified of the status of their submissions, but the sponsor does not plan to provide detailed critiques of individual proposals.

InnoCentive says taking part in the challenge provides the sponsor with a royalty-free, perpetual, and non-exclusive license to use any information included in the participant’s proposal. However, an exclusive transfer of intellectual property rights to the sponsor is not required.

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