There is a new kid on the block in cavity prevention. Who is this new kid, you ask? Hydroxyapatite. That’s who. Ok it’s not exactly ‘new’ since Hydroxyapatite is a natural compound that makes up 90% of our tooth enamel. it was synthetically developed in the 1960’s by NASA for their astronauts. The NASA patent was then purchased by a Japanese toothpaste manufacturer which has been producing and selling toothpaste with this fluoride toothpaste alternative since 1973. More recently Canada also joined the switch to the new cavity fighter.
Why replace Fluoride?
Fluoride has been the gold standard additive in toothpaste since it was discovered to greatly lower cavities in children and promote the development of strong teeth and gums. Trial research began with fluoridated water in Grand Rapids, MI in 1945 and the 15 year long study produced amazing results. By adding fluoride in limited amounts to the water supply scientists discovered that the rate of dental caries (decay) in children’s teeth decreased by 60%. This discovery transformed American dentistry into a primarily preventative care mode and has greatly improved the wellbeing of children and adults over the past 60 years.
However, there are drawbacks to fluoride. In fact the way that scientists and dental practitioners discovered the positive effects of fluoride was the result of their work with people who suffered from fluorosis (fluoride poisoning) and, as a result, developed severe brown staining of their teeth. This occurred in several small towns where high concentrations of fluoride were found in the local drinking water supply because of mining activities in the area. The ugly brown staining was big a problem, but it also resulted in extremely low cavity rates. These discoveries led to the use of limited concentrations of fluoride in drinking water and fluoride toothpastes in the past half century. And the results have been outstanding!
So why mess with a good thing? In part because of the possibility of fluorosis, especially in children. But also because the new ingredient has shown in tests to provide cavity fighting abilities as well as greater whitening abilities and no toxicity. This combination of tooth decay prevention, whitening benefits and the fact it is completely non-toxic has led to a rise in the use of this new additive in toothpaste.
What is Hydroxyapatite?
This new dental toothpaste additive is called hydroxyapatite (HAp). Chemically it is known as calcium phosphate or calcium apatite and the exciting thing about it is that it occurs naturally in the human body. In fact, hydroxyapatite makes up 90% of the composition of our tooth enamel, 70% of our tooth dentin and 60% of the chemical composition of our bones. It is not only non-toxic it is an absolutely essential human biochemical compound. This means there are no toxicity levels, no deleterious effects, no real drawbacks to the use of HAp in human products.
No negative effects is great, but is HAp effective in preventing tooth decay? In a recent scientific study published in the journal, Nature, the results showed no difference between fluoride and hydroxyapatite in the remineralization effects of tooth enamel. The only significant difference between the two dental additives was that the HAp produced a smoother and more uniform remineralization of tooth enamel than the fluoride.
What does this mean for our toothpastes?
In the discussion of the results in the study published in Nature, it was noted that dental caries in children and adults continue to be a serious health problem. Therefore, despite the great benefits of the use of fluoride over the past decades, there is a growing concern that more help is needed. However, because of the toxicity of fluoride at high concentrations in toothpaste (especially for children) the concentration of fluoride that can be used in toothpastes has a limit and is therefore regulated by the FDA. One of the benefits of hydroxyapatite is that it is non-toxic and does not need dosage regulation, and is proven to be effective at preventing tooth decay. With this in mind fluoride toothpaste companies are beginning to offer hydroxyapatite toothpastes as alternatives to their longtime favorites. This means that in the years to come we will be getting a lot more definitive data on the effectiveness of both toothpaste additives and will hopefully be able to continue to lower the rate of tooth decay around the world.
(HAp)piness is a Healthy SmileOne of the new players in the toothpaste industry is Poppits toothpaste pods! Poppits contain hydroxyapatite for enamel protection in their toothpaste pods. Visit Poppits.com and order some and personally learn about all the many benefits of this revolutionary new single use toothpaste for yourself.