When you think of the ingredients in toothpaste, the one that probably comes to mind is fluoride. Fluoride is the active ingredient in toothpaste that helps strengthen teeth and prevent cavities (tooth decay). So, what does fluoride have to do with hydroxyapatite? Well, there are toothpastes out there now that have replaced fluoride with hydroxyapatite and although they are not as popular If you haven’t heard of Hydroxyapatite (HAp) toothpaste, then listen up because its coming. Is hydroxyapatite it just as effective as Fluoride? Let’s take a look.
What is Hydroxyapatite?
Hydroxyapatite (HAp) is a naturally occurring form of calcium apatite, it makes up 97% of your tooth enamel with the other 3% being water, collagen and other proteins. High concentrations of hydroxyapatite is what makes your enamel one of the strongest substances in your body.
Although enamel is strong it is still vulnerable to the acids from food, drinks and dental plaque. In order to maintain a healthy dentition, the enamel needs to be constantly built back up, or remineralized.
Teeth start to decay when the rate of demineralization (loss of calcium and phosphate from your teeth) exceeds the rate at which your teeth are remineralizing (adding calcium and phosphate to your teeth). Both of these processes occur all of the time in your mouth and are impacted by your diet, oral hygiene, mouth breathing and the microbes in your mouth.
Your saliva along with fluoride containing toothpastes and hydroxyapatite toothpastes all help remineralize your teeth. The main attraction of Hydroxyapatite toothpaste is that it will remineralize your teeth without any known side effects. Fluoride comes with the risk of toxicity when used in extremely high doses.
Hydroxyapatite vs. Fluoride
There are a few studies out there that have compared the two products and so far, hydroxyapatite has performed on par with fluoride. Fluoride works by creating a new structure call fluorapatite. When your saliva has fluoride in it from sources like toothpaste or water, your teeth are able to take it in. Once in your enamel, fluoride teams up with calcium and phosphate there to create fluorapatite. It’s much stronger, more resistant to decay and fights to protect your teeth. Fluoride also enables your enamel to up take the calcium and phosphate in your saliva more efficiently.
Hydroxyapatite acts by replacing the minerals your teeth lose when they’re demineralized and filling in the tiny cracks in your teeth that otherwise play host to bacteria. Because your teeth recognize this compound, they absorb and uptake hydroxyapatite down to the root. Instead of forming an external layer, like fluoride, HAp reaches down through your entire tooth to build it from the inside out. Hydroxyapatite is also said to bind to bacteria and plaque during brushing causing them to detach and then be spit out when you rinse.
Products featuring hydroxyapatite focus on restoring and remineralizing teeth, while fluoride works on remineralizing teeth using our saliva. In regard to protecting teeth and preventing tooth decay, Hydroxyapatite is said to be less resistant to acid than fluoride. Fluoride creates a dense zone of protection on the surface whereas hydroxyapatite penetrates into the crevices and fills it. Products featuring hydroxyapatite offer another way to remineralize and protect teeth aside from traditional fluoride products. With today’s families ingesting foods and beverages that are higher in sugar and acidity, the prevention of tooth decay is critical. Hydroxyapatite has shown to be a comparable substitute for fluoride and has been the gold standard in oral health in Japan for over 40 years. Whether using toothpaste with fluoride or hydroxyapatite, it is recommended to be used in conjunction with proper oral care habits such as avoiding certain food and beverages (high in sugar, starches, acid), brushing twice daily, mouthwash, flossing, and regular visits to your dentist. Consult your dentist about whether using products with hydroxyapatite is right for you or your family, how to use them properly, and contact us directly as we’re happy to answer any questions.