Triclosan is a broad-spectrum antibacterial agent that inserts into and disrupts the bacterial membrane. Being a nonpolar molecule, it has an affinity for the hydrophobic environment of the lipid bilayer. This causes leakage of cellular components, ultimately leading to cell death.

Figure 10. Triclosan.

Image: Triclosan: A nonpolar molecule that disrupts bacterial cell membranes.

A nonpoplar molecule that disrupts bacterial cell membranes.

Triclosan is the antibacterial ingredient in Colgate® Total®, and it provides the plaque and gingivitis benefits of the dentifrice. Since it is an uncharged molecule, triclosan itself has poor retention (substantivity) in the oral cavity (Figure 10).50-52 Colgate® Total® is formulated with a special polymer (Gantrez®), which increases the substantivity of triclosan in the oral cavity. Colgate® Total® was introduced outside the U.S. in 1992 and was the first broadly marketed antibacterial dentifrice. Because triclosan is not included in the US Antiplaque-Antigingivitis Monograph, Colgate® Total® had to be approved through an NDA before it could be sold in the US. It received US marketing approval in 1997. Colgate® Total® (Figure 11) carries the ADA Seal of Acceptance and has been demonstrated effective in the therapeutic categories of caries and gingivitis.53-55

Figure 11. Colgate® Total®.

Image: Colgate Total: An antigingivitis dentifrice approved through an NDA.

An antigingivitis dentifrice approved through an NDA.

Video 2. Progression of Gingivitis Induced by Bacteria.

Video 3. How an Antibacterial Agent Reduces Bacteria and Gingivitis (Inflammation).