If you’ve been a Wellness Mama reader for a while, you probably know that I’m fascinated by dental health. The conventional advice is to use fluoride toothpaste to harden teeth (and prevent cavities) and to use a whitening toothpaste to deal with yellowing teeth. But I was not convinced that this was the only (or best) way to go with protecting my family’s dental health.
Then I discovered the benefits of hydroxyapatite, which is a material that can white and strengthen teeth. Fast forward a few years, and I decided to use hydroxyapatite as an ingredient in my own line of natural toothpaste. Since the name sounds so unusual, I thought it was worth explaining the benefits of this elaborate-sounding mineral and why I chose to include it.
Let’s dive in!
What Is Hydroxyapatite?
Though the name is daunting to pronounce, it’s actually a very simple material. Hydroxyapatite (HAp) is a calcium phosphate that makes up human teeth and bones. Pure hydroxyapatite is white, which is why healthy teeth appear white.
Lab-created hydroxyapatite (nano-hydroxyapatite — n-HAp) has a hexagonal structure and ratio of calcium to phosphate that is identical to human bone and teeth. So, unlike some materials that are made in a lab, n-HAp is as good as natural hydroxyapatite.
Hydroxyapatite is also the most stable form of calcium phosphate, which means that it is unlikely to succumb to decomposition processes like oxidation. This is one reason that it has been researched and used for a variety of medical uses.
Benefits of Hydroxyapatite
Hydroxyapatite is an interesting material. According to a 2019 study, it has many benefits which make it a helpful material for medical and dental uses.
- Biocompatible & Bioactive – As mentioned earlier, hydroxyapatite is biologically identical to the material that human bones and teeth are made from. Because of this hydroxyapatite is not harmful to human tissue. It also has a biological effect, meaning it will help bones and teeth grow.
- Osteoconductive – Hydroxyapatite also is osteoconductive, meaning bone can grow onto the surface of hydroxyapatite, aiding in repairing hard tissue in the body.
- Non-Toxic – Hydroxyapatite is also non-toxic and does not cause inflammation. On the other hand, fluoride can be harmful.
- Anti-microbial – HAp is also antimicrobial, which can help fight infection and bacteria in the mouth, according to a 2018 study.
Researchers have known for a long time that HAp had these benefits. But with the advancement in nanotechnology, it has become easier to make n-HAp in the lab, making it more available for use.
Uses of Hydroxyapatite
Because of HAp’s many chemical benefits, it has been researched and used in both expected and unexpected uses.
Bone and Tooth Surgery
Because HAp is what teeth and bones are made from, it makes sense that it could help repair them. But what’s really interesting is that it can be used to help the body accept implants. It does this by coating the implant. This coating makes the body believe the implant is already part of the body.
Research published in 2006 backs up these uses. It also shows that HAp can help bone regrow, so it can help repair broken bones.
A ten-year review published in 1999 discovered that HAp is completely safe and continues to be a very effective way to help implants survive in the body.
Demineralization of the teeth can occur for several reasons including acidic foods and drinks, lack of adequate saliva, and excess plaque. Hydroxyapatite makes up about 97 percent of tooth enamel and 70 percent of dentin (the layer under the enamel), so replenishing this material is a great way to help support healthy teeth. When used in toothpaste, nano-hydroxyapatite fils in gaps in the tooth, strengthening it.
A 2014 review found that n-HAp toothpaste has a “remarkable remineralizing effect” on teeth — significantly better than fluoride.
The review notes that n-HAp also adheres to plaque and bacteria, making them less problematic for teeth and that n-HAp helps ease sensitivity.
According to a 2009 study, HAp can even help whiten teeth. Researchers conclude that it’s a great alternative to bleaching agents. Considering yellow teeth are a result of demineralizing, it makes sense that remineralizing could help improve the white appearance of teeth.
My whitening toothpaste contains hydroxyapatite for whitening and remineralizing teeth as well as aloe and green tea to fight bacteria and bad breath. We worked long and with a team of researchers and product scientists to develop a formula even better than my homemade toothpaste recipes.
The main uses of hydroxyapatite have been medical and dental, but there is some research into other uses for this material.
Air filters made with a combination of hydroxyapatite and 2 other chemicals can help absorb and decomposing carbon monoxide (CO) in the air.
Air quality (especially indoors) is a major concern for health-conscious families (including mine!), so this research is welcome.
Additionally, it can help to remove fluoride in the environment by adsorbing it. Adsorbing is different than absorbing. Adsorbing means that the fluoride attaches to the hydroxyapatite as a thin film around the outside. This helps remove the fluoride from the environment. Considering fluoride may have surprisingly negative effects (like causing acne!), I’m always looking for new ways to cut down on exposure.
Is Hydroxyapatite Safe?
Both the 2019 study and the 10-year review mentioned earlier found that there is no concern about safety with HAp when used in the ways explained above. However, when used as a supplement it may cause side effects such as headache, dry mouth, frequent urination, fatigue, flushing or sweating, and stomach discomfort.
Good thing we all know not to swallow our toothpaste!
My family uses hydroxyapatite in our toothpaste to help remineralize and whiten our teeth naturally and we have had a great experience with it.
Hydroxyapatite: Bottom Line
The technical name for this material makes it a bit scary but it’s far from harmful!
- HAp is a safe and effective ingredient in natural toothpaste (what I use it for) but also can be used for medical and environmental uses.
- Even when made in a lab, it is safe, effective, and bioactive.
- It can actually directly help bone and teeth remineralize and regrow in some instances.
If you are looking for an alternative to fluoride toothpaste that actually works, I highly recommend using a hydroxyapatite toothpaste like the one from Wellnesse.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Lauren Jefferis, board-certified in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor or work with a doctor at SteadyMD.
- Dan, P., Sundararajan, V., Ganeshkumar, H., Gnanabarathi, B., Subramanian, A. K., Venkatasubu, G. D., … Mohideen, S. S. (2019). Evaluation of hydroxyapatite nanoparticles – induced in vivo toxicity in Drosophila melanogaster. Applied Surface Science, 484, 568–577. doi: 10.1016/j.apsusc.2019.04.120
- Seyedmajidi, S., Rajabnia, R., & Seyedmajidi, M. (2018). Evaluation of antibacterial properties of hydroxyapatite/bioactive glass and fluorapatite/bioactive glass nanocomposite foams as a cellular scaffold of bone tissue. Journal of Laboratory Physicians, 10(03), 265–270. doi: 10.4103/jlp.jlp_167_17
- Zhang, Y., Xu, H. H. K., Takagi, S., & Chow, L. C. (2006). In-situ hardening hydroxyapatite-based scaffold for bone repair. Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine, 17(5), 437–445. doi: 10.1007/s10856-006-8471-z
- Petit, R. (1999). The use of hydroxyapatite in orthopaedic surgery: A ten-year review. European Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery & Traumatology, 9(2), 71–74. doi: 10.1007/bf01695730
- Pepla, E. (2014). Nano-hydroxyapatite and its applications in preventive, restorative and regenerative dentistry: a review of literature. Annali Di Stomatologia. doi: 10.11138/ads/2014.5.3.108
- Dabanoglu A, A. (2009). Whitening effect and morphological evaluation of hydroxyapatite materials. American Journal of Dentistry.
- Nasr-Esfahani, M., & Fekri, S. (2012). Alumina/TiO2/hydroxyapatite interface nanostructure composite filters as efficient photocatalysts for the purification of air. Reaction Kinetics, Mechanisms and Catalysis, 107(1), 89–103. doi: 10.1007/s11144-012-0457-x
- Pandi, K., & Viswanathan, N. (2014). Synthesis of alginate bioencapsulated nano-hydroxyapatite composite for selective fluoride sorption. Carbohydrate Polymers, 112, 662–667. doi: 10.1016/j.carbpol.2014.06.029