What is the Difference: Hydroxyapatite vs. Fluoride Toothpaste

Oral health care is something that we learn from an early age. You often hear it as a kid: brush your teeth after every meal. Floss regularly. Use fluoride toothpaste. If you don’t, you’ll soon be visiting the dentist — something no young kid ever wants to hear. 


Brushing at least twice a day and flossing are taught all across the world. You can’t say the same about fluoride toothpaste, though. 


Fluoride may be what’s recommended to you here in the U.S. but other countries seem to have moved on from it. Take Japan, for example. In Japan, hydroxyapatite has been the gold standard for toothpaste for over 40 years. 


What Is Hydroxyapatite? 

Hydroxyapatite is a naturally occurring mineral. It is a bioactive compound made of calcium, phosphorus or phosphate, and oxygen. In nature, pure hydroxyapatite is white and grows in hexagonal crystals.  


It is also found in your body— specifically in your teeth. Enamel, the tough outer covering of the teeth, is around 97% hydroxyapatite. The dentin underneath the enamel is also almost 70% hydroxyapatite. 


Astronauts were the first to use the compound to repair teeth and bones. The first hydroxyapatite toothpaste appeared in Japan back in 1978. It was advertised as an enamel-restoring toothpaste. 


Today, modern toothpaste with hydroxyapatite uses a lab-made form of the mineral compound. Nano-hydroxyapatite or NHA lends its name to the type of toothpaste, too. 


Nano-Hydroxyapatite vs Fluoride Toothpaste 


NHA toothpaste is still quite new in the U.S. This makes people unsure about replacing their fluoride toothpaste. When you learn more about it though, you can’t deny its benefits. 


Let’s take a closer look at how fluoride and NHA toothpastes work and which is better. 


How Does Fluoride Work? 

Unlike NHA, fluoride is not a compound. It’s a single mineral that helps strengthen your teeth enamel.  


Fluoride works by combining with your saliva. Human saliva contains calcium and phosphate. This is how it helps protect and keep your teeth strong. 


Fluoride mixes with the calcium and phosphate in your saliva to form fluorapatite. This compound is more acid-resistant, which helps it protect your teeth further. Fluorapatite also helps restore enamel minerals and your teeth’s strength. 


Benefits of Fluoride Toothpaste 

Fluoride toothpaste has long been the standard in oral health care for a reason. Here in the U.S., it’s added not only in toothpaste but also in drinking water. It helps strengthen your teeth and prevents the growth of decay-causing bacteria. 


Here are some of the benefits of fluoride toothpaste: 

  • ⭐️ Prevents cavities or decay 
  • ⭐️ Rebuilds weak tooth enamel 
  • ⭐️ Slows down demineralization or mineral loss 
  • ⭐️ Kills harmful bacteria 
  • ⭐️ Reverses early signs of tooth decay 

    How Does Hydroxyapatite Work? 

    Hydroxyapatite is a bioavailable form of calcium. This means NHA toothpaste can help your teeth grow stronger and repair themselves.  


    NHA toothpaste contains hydroxyapatite particles that are 20 to 80 nanometers small. Its small size allows the NHA to get into the smallest spaces. Your teeth absorb these NHA particles and use them to rebuild enamel. The particles fill in fissures or holes in your enamel.  


    You can’t recover lost enamel. But, you can use NHA toothpaste to improve the enamel’s mineral content. The NHA remineralizes the enamel from the inside. In short, it replaces the dissolved or eroded minerals in your enamel. 


    Benefits of NHA Toothpaste 

    Studies suggest that NHA toothpaste is just as good as fluoride ones. Restoring the lost minerals in your teeth's enamel is not the only benefit that NHA shares with fluoride. Both kinds of toothpaste have many of the same benefits but NHA has a few advantages.  


    Here are some of the benefits of toothpaste with hydroxyapatite: 

    • ⭐️ Restores enamel to its original levels 
    • ⭐️ Whitens your teeth 
    • ⭐️ Strengthens teeth enamel 
    • ⭐️ Remineralizes new caries lesions 
    • ⭐️ Protects teeth from decay 
    • ⭐️ Prevents bad bacteria from sticking to the enamel 
    • ⭐️ Stimulates bone growth 
    • ⭐️ Helps with hypersensitivity
    • ⭐️ Non-toxic and kid-friendly 

    Is Hydroxyapatite Safe? 

    The lack of any serious hydroxyapatite toothpaste side effects is one of its biggest advantages over fluoride toothpaste. 


    Since hydroxyapatite is naturally occurring and is also found within your body, it is considered safer than a lot of other dental treatments or products. 


    A recent study showed that NHA toothpaste does not pose any safety problems. At most, you’d find cases of an allergic reaction. Still, those are few and far in between. 


    NHA toothpaste is non-toxic. It’s safe for you to swallow even the entire tube of toothpaste. This is handy when dealing with kids. There’s no danger of poison or overexposure, unlike with fluoride. When swallowed in large quantities, fluoride becomes toxic and a poison risk. 


    This is why fluoride toothpaste can be dangerous for kids. Children don’t always have the best control over swallowing toothpaste. As such, there is always the danger of dental fluorosis. 


    Fluorosis happens when you ingest a large amount of fluoride. When too much fluoride gets into your bloodstream, it can change the appearance of your teeth' enamel. As such, toothpaste with hydroxyapatite helps reduce the risk of fluorosis. 



    The Takeaway 

    Yes, both fluoride and NHA toothpaste are proven to reverse and prevent tooth decay. They are also both proven to restore tooth enamel minerals. Similarly, both help whiten and strengthen your teeth. 


    With all these differences, you may ask why you’d need to switch to toothpaste with hydroxyapatite.  


    Simple: it has little to no side effects and more benefits. 


    NHA toothpaste is just as effective as fluoride in protecting your teeth. But it’s much safer overall, for you and especially for kids. It also has the added benefit of treating sensitive teeth. 


    Fluoride may be more popular and the current gold standard in the U.S. but it’s clear that hydroxyapatite is a better alternative. 


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