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The voice of the brand strategy consultancy, The Portnoy Group Inc.

The Brand Man Speaks is a dialogue about the consuming world in which we live and a guide to successfully navigating it. The goal is to educate people and companies about branding, the most powerful yet misunderstood business tool.

To learn more about branding and The Portnoy Group visit our website. Click on the link above, or click this link to the The Portnoy Group Blog Contact Page. 

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Crest Pro-Health Mouth Wash brand under fire for causing discoloration of teeth

Crest, the leading overall mouth hygiene brand for many decades and the brand consumers aligned most with dentists, is facing a surprising battle over side-effects from using its relatively new Pro-Health product line.

In the highly competitive business of oral hygiene brands like Crest found they couldn't rest on the laurels of its brand history as other brands upped the ante in the category. In the mouthwash or "oral rinse" segment, Listerine pulled away from the pack including the Scope brand with the introduction of its revolutionary teeth whitening product.

Crest introduced a complete line of more expensive and efficacious products under the "Pro Health" sub-brand attempting to solidify its perceived tie to dentist's recommendations. Most notable was the mouthwash entry with its "alcohol-free" benefit which appealed to broad audiences especially mom's worried about kids "drinking" alcohol based alternative mouthwash brands.

Recently, consumer concerns about the "Pro-Health" brand surfaced all over the internet accusing Proctor & Gamble of not being forthcoming with the product's side effects. Notably, teeth discoloration (they apparently turn brownish) and taste altering issues (users lost taste sensation after using the product). The discoloration of teeth is the most damaging issue primarily because Americans have become obsessed with teeth whitening to the point where some folks older than 65 whose teeth should show normal wear and tear and discoloration now sport teeth whiter than young children's new teeth and on-par with Hollywood celebrities. (Is it just me who thinks some smiles now are just "too white" akin to overdone plastic surgery?)

On NBC's Today Show this morning these concerns were presented clearly causing Proctor some serious problems namely how to protect an established big brand from major damage. There are class action lawsuits pending and tons of negative comments on the internet especially on blogs about the brand which may prove very costly to Proctor.

P & G's spokesperson downplayed the concern and did not alay consumer fears sufficiently in my opinion to stop a negative backlash against the brand. Many consumers are calling for P & G to label the product with the side-effects instead of pretending they don't exist.

This could become a case where a sub-branded product entry could undermine one of the great brands in the HBA segment if P & G does not get on track and effectively handle this matter. The increased attention from media outlets like the Today Show now have the government agencies looking into consumer claims. Companies never want the government to get in their face and this is a great example of poor brand management.

If you have had a bad experience with the product, write me please. Tell me your story.

Watching out for you everyday.



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T C Canada

My hygienist ask me about weird discoloration today Apr 2013. After going through diet & changes, she thinks its my new mouthwash #Crest Pro-Health?! Why is it still on the shelves esp seeing the long trail of comments/complaints?! - I paid good premium for this and even more for my cleaning:s


I started using Crest Pro Health rinse a couple of weeks ago, and didn't make the connection to this weird taste I've been having until I found this on the web. I thought at first that I had a problem with my water pipes, but then realized that everything has this nasty off taste. Why in the world are they allowed to sell this awful product?! I won't ever use it again, and I'm hoping my taste goes back to normal.

Pamela Rosar

I started using the pro-health clinical crest mouthwash a few days ago at the recommendation of my dental hygienist, ironically. As of today I have stopped. the top of my tongue is dark brown, I have lesions on the underside. it feels numb and I can't taste things normally. Anything acidic, even an orange, causes pain. My gums are swollen. I've been taking ibuprofen for the inflammation and pain. At first I thought it was an outbreak of herpes simplex due to immune system I am convinced all these symptoms are caused by the mouthwash. I will call crest tomorrow (they are closed on the weekend!) but the fact that I no longer have my receipt to send in for a refund makes me a bit pessimistic that they will do anything to help. it is shameful that this product is on the market, even if those of us who have side effects are a small percentage.

Dennis M

Last week after brushing my teeth prior to going to bed, I rinsed with the Crest Pro Health mouth wash...and went to sleep.. I woke the next morning with burning lips and sores in my mouth under my tongue and lower lip. Ive been in pain now for 4 days... not knowing any better, I continued to rinse with the Crest Pro Health, hoping that it would help to heal any minor mouth infection. When the sores spread to my upper lip, I realized that it was the mouthwash causing the problem. Im still in a lot of pain, my lower lip is swollen, and its difficult to eat.

John David

I really got some important points from here. Really i will do what you have mentioned above. Thank you

Larry Seiler

Last night, brushing my teeth before bed...rinsing my mouth and swishing around this rinse...then finished, notice that my upper gums and a good many of my teeth had turned dark. The teeth along the side molars...near the gumline especially downright ugly black. You get an immediate sick in the gut feeling! What...some flesh eating bacteria, some peridontal disease, cancer?

I went online...11:30pm trying to determine what the heck, ya know? Could it be side effects from meds I take for respiratory issues from the VA...? (I am a disabled veteran), using steoidal inhalers...and a reason I to find and use a good rinse.

I've been one of those many have hated, many dentists grow poor on. The convenience of genetics...and I have but one filling and a partial filling in my teeth, and that's it. Other than taking it on a front permanent with a baseball bat many years, and some cosmetic work from a friend years ago to make appear normal...never an issue. And what(?) now I have some dreaded disease...or bacterial infection? wife gets me a shot to see the dentist today, and staff jockey to cover me and I run down. Sitting in the chair, after xrays...and the silence grows loud. I'm like..."gee, must be so gross they don't want to level with me" Then...the dentist says in a soothing tone. "Well...the teeth are good." More silence..."and your gums are actually quite healthy, that good coral color"

I'm like..."huh? What? about that black gum teeth stuff?"

He gives me a mirror, with a tool scrapes one of the teeth down so I can watch, then asks..."have you been using a mouth rinse, Crest by any chance?" I'm like, what...huh? "Um...yeah, just the past couple months." Figure with my meds suggesting rinsing the mouth out following use, I'd get a good rinse. Heck...the bottle comes with all kinds of recommendations on the commercial labelling...whitener no less. Hydrogen peroxide...

The dentist tells me of more and more reports of people coming to dentists with gums and teeth turning black, and this rinse tends to be a common denominator culprit. Tells me of someone coming in with tears.

You have got to be kidding me! about side effects! I have an appointment coming up...and until then, I'll feel a bit conscientious of baring my smile, but *whew...that was a weight off my shoulders! I did think I should get this out though...for my friends. If you hear of others...some panic, have it in your own household...egads, buyer beware!!!!
* note...since posting this to friends on social two days of discontinued use, a good deal of my color has returned to my gums. Some discoloring still...but amazing difference. Hoping my scheduled teeth cleaning ends this saga.

dentist Bondi Junction dental veneers

Oh my god thank god i found this blog its very informative, that's why no matter how i brush it keeps on going back.


I've been using this for a few weeks. Last week I got a pizza and it tasted sweet. I thought that was odd but thought perhaps they changed the sauce or something. At a later meal I noticed how bland the food was and no matter how much salt I poured on I couldn't taste a thing. I went a few days without the Crest Pro Health and noticed some return of salt taste, (I still didn't realizes the change had been caused by the mouth wash). Today I used the Pro Health and now my everything is tasteless. I did a search and found this has happened to others. I called my doctors office and Poison Control and they were no help as to what ingredient in the mouthwash caused this and didn't seem to to think that it was a big deal. Well to me it's ruining the quality of my life I like to taste my food.


I got my lip pierced yesterday and was instructed to use a mouthwash without alcohol. I decided to buy Crest Pro Health (Alcohol Free) because it is the brand most recommended by dentists. I have only been using it for about a day and the underside of my tongue is so sore and everything I eat taste weird. I am definitely not going to be using Crest products anymore.


I am so upset!! I woke up the other day with brown stains on my bottom teeth. It was out of nowhere and clearly something that can't be brushed away. I googled my symptoms and all these links about Crest Pro Heath mouthwash started surfacing. I went to my bathroom and guess which mouthwash i use...yep!! i haven't gone to the dentist yet, but I am furious. If anyone could keep me upated on how to complain or lawsuits that would be great.


I am so glad that I stumbled upon this site!! I almost cried this morning when, after brushing, I took a close look at my teeth, especially the backs of t the first 6 on my lower set: they look like I've been chewing tobacco for the past 10 years!! Oh my god! I didn't connect the staining to the mouthwash until tonight when the tip of my tounge felt so burnt after rinsing that I just had to see if anyone else had this reaction!
I've only been using the product for a week. I am in total shock over the damage! UGH. I am so angry that my teeth are ruined!


I used the Crest Pro Health Rinse for a few weeks and one morning noticed my teeth were brown near my gums. Because the rinse was the only thing new about my dental hygiene, I did a quick Google search and was shocked to find page after page of results, complaining about this problem. I can't believe it hasn't been addressed and I am now boycotting all P&G products.

Kyle Elise Christensen

I used Crest Pro Health toothpaste for about 2 months....I have been to the dentist (who said I needed a bite plane, which I was already using) the internist (he said it might be allergies) and was ready to go to an ENT...I thought maybe my thyroid was inflamed (I am hypothyroid) or that I had oral thrush....I have seen complaints about it all over the net now...why is it still on the market?? My sense of taste is gone, my teeth are brown, and there is a disgusting film over my tongue and cheeks that peels off like white mucus....I am so angry..I hope there is a lawsuit


I started using Crest Pro Health for Me about 2 weeks ago. My first symptom was on the inside of my gum along my tooth line. I thought maybe I was grinding my teeth @ night which I have never done in the past. Then a few days later a white bump on the same side. Then the other side of my mouth and what felt like a slit. Then ulcers. Then drainage in the back of my throat. And, finally today coughing up yellow mucous. Took about 2 weeks for symptoms to progress. I tried using Listerine thinking that would do. And, finally broke down and went to doctor today. I just was diagnosed with some kind of virus, given handout on bronchitus & was prescribed an antibiotic & cough medicine. Then right before bed. . .before I brushed my teeth - a revelation! It's the toothpaste. So, I googled and found this. THANK you! Last night after making the decision to go to doctor today I was getting crazy scared of all the things my symptoms could have been from. Now I feel relief! Still going to take the antibiotic. But, so relieved. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Jamie Raleigh

I have NEVER been so devastated in all of my life! I am a FREAK about my teeth... I am 32 years old, I have an 11-week old baby and am already busting my overweight !@# trying to lose weight because I feel ugly and NOW I HAVE BROWN TEETH!!! I AM FURIOUS!! There has to be SOMETHING WE CAN DO... I have taken picture of my teeth... Please let me know if there is a "Class Action Suit" pending... I live just outside of Little Rock, Arkansas.


I had stopped using Prohealth a few years ago but I had forgotten why. I remember now after buying a new tube. It leaves a horrible taste in my mouth all day and I get a white film on my teeth, lips and tongue. It's really disgusting. I think I may have to write an article about this on my blog.

Lasik surgery

I never use this product and I never try to whiten my teeth, but I want to do that, because my smile is not so white anymore. I heard about Crest, especially about crest whitestrips and I was informed that these are okay, no side effects, now i'm concerned, I don't know what to believe.


for anyone who's saying that Crest has figured out this problem, it's a lie. it's 2011 already (6 years after launch) and this $@*! still kills your sense of taste from the very first time you use it. I miss tasting food...


I just took a close look at my teeth in the mirror tonight and noticed the most godawful brown staining in between them. If you looked at my teeth and the discoloration you'd think I was a crack head! How in god's name are they selling this crap and getting away with it? What a complete lack of integrity. Crest is a product I've used since I was a kid. Hell, it's one of the very first things I remember. Do they realize that they've just thrown out 30 years of consumer trust right out the door! Seriously... did it occur to them that the public wouldn't take kindly to horrid stains on their teeth? Especially when the whole point of brushing, flossing and rinsing with a mouthwash is to have pearly, white teeth! What's next? Can I expect to get cancer from this crap?

Socorro Sultan

This product must prove itslf. Hope i could try very soon..


I started using the Pro Health Mouth Wash this week at the recommendation of my dentist. After the first use I notice a change to my sense of taste, and this is after the 30 minute 'no eating' period mentioned both on the label and by my dentist. After 3 days of use the taste problem persist which lead me to do some internet research. After seeing so many links regarding this issue I'm a bit upset at both Crest for the weak warning and my dentist for specifically recommending this product. I wonder if some dentist are purposly endorsing this stuff knowing they may make some fees off of cleaning services down the road... A bit conspiratory I know but I can't understand why a dental professional would recommend a product known to mess up your mouth. I'm dumping the rest of the bottle down the sink when I get home today and will mention it at my next appointment. I'm lucky that I haven't experienced the staining problem and I feel for those who have.


How about turning your tongue, cheeks and lips blue! I used Crest 3D toothpaste and mouthwash for 2 days and now I look like a smurf! I see a lot of comments for brown spots, but I have not seen anyone say blue. Is it the 3D product line? This is horrible...


Oh my goodness, I so thought something was wrong with me until I found this website today... all I have to say is that I am so upset I just got my braces of just a couple of months ago and then started using the product...and now brown spots. I HONESTLY can't afford anymore dental bills is there anything that I can try to remove the spots?? Home remedies....other products...any help would greatly be appreciated.I did also file a complaint with Crest we'll see how far that takes me...but still.

Spiro Telegadis

I have been using Crest Pro Health for almost 10 Months now and I would have never suspected that was the culprit of my teeth staining until recently. In the past eight months I had my teeth cleaned by my Dentist and twice the visits included a waterjet procedure and a pumice treatment to remove the stains. Needless to say I thought there was something inherently wrong with my body that was causing the staining. Just two days ago I had Zoom Whitening teeth bleaching treatments done because almost 30 days after my last cleaning (March 11th) the stains had returned. Exactly two days after the whitening treatment the brown stains returned. That's when I searched the Internet and found this posting. Needless to say I'm no longer going to use this stuff and I'm bothered by the fact I just bought three large bottles of this JUNK from Costco.

Valerie Gilbert

I have recently been using crest prohealth night rinse and now my gums have swollen up and are very sore behind using thbis product i can see dark brown spots under my bottom teeth around my gums that werent there before the food i eat taste awful and im in almost unbearable pain im going to call my dentist and set up an appointment and then crest will hear from me if only id have known all this was going on i never woulda started using it they really need to recall this product before something worse happens and they get more lawsuits than they can stand!!!

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