If you’re like most people, there’s a good chance that you don’t really understand the ingredients in your toothpaste or how they work. Essentially, different types of toothpaste have specific ingredients geared toward the prevention or reduction of dental issues, such as:
- Fluoride – Fluoride toothpaste contains fluoride, which is a mineral that helps keep your teeth strong and resistant to the acids formed by dental plaque bacteria.
- Triclosan – Other kinds of toothpaste also have triclosan, which helps protect your gums from gingivitis.
There are plenty of other ingredients in various toothpastes that you may or may not be familiar with, but the most talked-about one right now is hydroxyapatite.
Hydroxyapatite toothpaste plays a unique role in keeping teeth nice and strong. Keep reading to learn more about this mineral, its benefits, and how to use it.
What Is Hydroxyapatite?
So, what exactly is hydroxyapatite, and what’s it doing in toothpaste?
Put simply, your teeth aren’t just bone. They’re complex structures made up of several different parts. Hydroxyapatite (HA or HAP) is naturally part of that complex structure as it acts as a building block for tooth enamel and dentin.
More specifically, hydroxyapatite is a form of calcium — and it makes up 97% of tooth enamel and 70% of dentin. Its chemical formula is Ca5(PO4)3(OH), and it’s also a major component of your bones, making up about 60% of their structure.
As you can imagine, this naturally occurring mineral is what gives your teeth and bones their hardness and strength. Osteopathic studies have also shown how hydroxyapatite can strengthen and rebuild bone material and dental enamel — which is also referred to as remineralization — without any side effects.
There are actually two types of HAP: Micro and nano. The primary difference, aside from particle size, is that micro-HAP comes from natural sources (such as bovine) while nano-HAP is usually synthetic.
You can find both micro- and nano-hydroxyapatite toothpaste types on the market; however, nano-HAP toothpaste tends to be the better option for those who suffer from sensitivity. This is because nanoparticles are much smaller compared to microparticles and can therefore hold onto more surface area. Of course, micro-HAP toothpastes will also work just fine for sensitivity when nano-HAP is unavailable.
How Does Hydroxyapatite Work?
The most unique thing about HAP is that it’s biomimetic. In other words, it’s made up of biochemical materials that are able to mimic the body’s natural biochemical processes. In other words, the body already knows what to do with it. So, once hydroxyapatite is placed on the tooth surface, it naturally goes right to work.
Since HAP naturally contains calcium as well as phosphate ions — two crucial components of enamel remineralization — it is able to rebuild the areas affected by demineralization. It does this by binding with the surface of your teeth where its small particles fill in the weaker areas, creating a stronger surface. As it does this, HAP also decreases tooth sensitivity while giving teeth a whiter appearance.
Research has also found that HAP is able to penetrate deeper into the layers of tooth enamel where it works to reduce bacterial colonization. It has also been found to be just as effective at reducing bacterial decolonization as chlorhexidine mouthwash without killing off the good bacteria, keeping the mouth’s oral microbiome healthy.
The Benefits of Using Hydroxyapatite
One of the most important things you can do for your oral hygiene is to protect the enamel on your teeth. Enamel is arguably the hardest substance within the body as it contains a high amount of minerals, including HAP. Of course, what you eat as well as your other daily habits can have a negative effect on your enamel, which is where hydroxyapatite toothpaste comes in.
Some of the benefits of using hydroxyapatite include:
- Preventing and reversing cavities. As HAP binds with the teeth to rebuild enamel, it increases the enamel’s hardness at the macro level. This is what prevents enamel erosion and demineralized enamel — which leads to cavities and tooth decay. As it remineralizes teeth over time, it can reverse the formation of cavities and further prevent tooth decay.
- It whitens the teeth. Hydroxyapatite also has a natural whitening effect on teeth without changing the polishing abrasives used in toothpaste.
- It reduces sensitivity. As your tooth enamel wears down, the roots become more exposed. Since HAP rebuilds enamel and strengthens the teeth, it automatically reduces sensitivity.
- It promotes a healthier oral microbiome. Most toothpastes and mouthwashes — especially those containing fluoride — tend to kill off both the good and bad bacteria in your mouth. However, HAP doesn’t kill off the good bacteria which helps to keep your mouth’s microbiome in check.
- It stabilizes mouth alkalinity. Your mouth is meant to always have a slightly more alkaline pH level to naturally prevent oral diseases and inflammation. Since hydroxyapatite is a specific part of our bone structure, it’s already equipped to resist acidic pH levels and maintain the mouth’s alkalinity by making teeth more resistant to acidity.
- It’s non-toxic and biocompatible. Unlike oral products containing fluoride, hydroxyapatite doesn’t come with a mandated warning on the label. It’s perfectly safe to use and since it’s biocompatible, it’s easily recognized and used by the body.
How to Use Hydroxyapatite
Using hydroxyapatite toothpaste or mouthwash is incredibly simple. For maximum benefits, you want to make sure that HAP is left on your teeth so it can continue to work throughout the day and night.
Just follow these steps:
- Find a toothpaste that has at least 10% HAP. If you have extreme tooth sensitivity, opt for a toothpaste that has nano-HAP. If you can, find a HAP mouthwash to add to your routine as well.
- Squeeze a pea-sized amount of the HAP toothpaste onto your toothbrush and brush as you normally would for up to two minutes.
- Don’t rinse. Once you’ve finished brushing, refrain from rinsing with water to ensure the HAP coating remains on your teeth to ensure remineralization.
- Follow up with your HAP mouthwash as directed by the instructions on the bottle. Remember not to rinse with water!
Best Hydroxyapatite Toothpaste Brands
While toothpaste containing hydroxyapatite may seem new, there are plenty of brands out there selling oral hygiene products containing the mineral.
These are our top suggestions for HAP toothpaste:
- Twice Oral Wellness Toothpaste (Charcoal Icy Mint)
- Boka Lemon Lavender Natural Toothpaste (also in mint)
- Davids Sensitive + Whitening Premium Toothpaste
- Bite Fresh Mint Toothpaste Bits
- Crest Densify Daily Protection Toothpaste (also contains fluoride)
- Ela Mint Toothpaste
- RiseWell Mineral Toothpaste
As you can see, there are quite a lot of options for hydroxyapatite toothpaste on the market, including products from recognizable name brands. If none of the above are available to you, finding a HAP toothpaste is as easy as going to your local store and looking for HAP on the label. Of course, if you have specific concerns, you can always see what your regular dentist recommends. They can even prescribe hydroxyapatite toothpaste if needed.
Is Hydroxyapatite Really Safe?
Initial use of hydroxyapatite applications was spurred by NASA in the 70s when astronauts started losing minerals in their teeth and bones from the lack of gravity in space. It was Sangi Co. Ltd., a Japanese company that obtained NASA’s patent for the mineral for use in the dental industry, which eventually led to the first-ever nano-HAP toothpaste in 1980. The ingredient was further patented for dental use in 1990, giving osteopathic researchers plenty of time to study the mineral’s efficacy and safety in dental applications.
What they found was that hydroxyapatite toothpaste use doesn’t have the same controversial issues as fluoride toothpaste use, especially in excess. That’s not to say that fluoride toothpaste is dangerous; however, HAP has been found to be completely safe and even more effective. Of course, it is also used in combination with fluoride for stronger applications.
Essentially, hydroxyapatite is perfectly safe to use every day and incredibly effective.
Take Good Care of Your Teeth and Oral Health
Incorporating a hydroxyapatite toothpaste into your oral health regimen is an excellent way to prevent and reverse demineralization. It’s also a great way to keep your teeth white, your mouth’s microbiome balanced, and your gums healthy.
Of course, brushing your teeth is just one essential component of maintaining your oral hygiene. Ensuring you get routine cleanings and checkups — in addition to flossing daily — is the next best thing you can do for your mouth.
By booking an appointment today with us here at Wayzata Dental, we can help you stay on top of your overall dental health and wellness.