Why Is the Internet Obsessed With This Cult Toothpaste?

American customers are paying big bucks to import tiny tubes of toothpaste

Ashwin Rodrigues
Elemental
Published in
8 min readApr 29, 2019

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Illustration by Thoka Maer

OnOn the r/LegalAdvice subreddit, readers can “ask simple legal questions” like how to handle a $60,000 inheritance, or what to do when your car is repossessed, or whether an individual has legal recourse if an ex deletes a college thesis. On January 7, 2016, a poster sought advice on the shipment of unsanctioned contraband. “…the company refuses to sell it here,” wrote Reddit user orochiman. “Just wondering if the feds will come shoot my dog if I order it from Europe.” The substance in question? Toothpaste.

Sensodyne Repair & Protect with NovaMin has established a cult following among those seeking to treat tooth sensitivity. Alex*, a 45-year-old who works in IT in France, says he discovered the toothpaste in 2012 while living in Romania. (*Alex requested anonymity for this article, as did several other Reddit users contacted for this story.)

“I was having a lot of trouble with cracks and holes in my tooth enamel and the dentists were saying the only solution is crowning a lot of my teeth,” Alex said over Reddit direct message. After using this toothpaste, he said, “I was a new man. Not only did my teeth stop hurting but the enamel damage seemed to be repaired. The NovaMin was filling in the cracks.” Alex said he’s “basically addicted” to the toothpaste, as the cracks return after a week without the product.

In a NovaMin-inspired Twitter thread, PC Magazine senior features writer Chandra Steele praised the toothpaste, saying that the product was “endorsed by my teeth after having used it for a month. (They look fabulous.)” Glowing reviews pop-up across the internet: from subreddits r/Dentistry and /r/LifeProTips, to mentions on Quora, Y Combinator’s Hacker News, Twitter, and specialized sites like dentalhypotheses.com and Ceramics.org. On Amazon, a reviewer called it the “best toothpaste ever” and the few negative reviews tend to focus on the size of the packaging — there’s not enough of the stuff! — or complaints about counterfeits. When YouTube celebrity Casey Neistat asked his followers if he had anything to worry about from too much seltzer water consumption, Leo, a user who requested anonymity for this piece, recommended

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