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Hydroxyapatite Toothpaste Can Decrease Teeth Sensitivity

Updated: Apr 11

Hydroxyapatite is a proven anti-sensitivity toothpaste ingredient so using it twice a day can help reduce sensitive teeth and alleviate discomfort. How it works differs from potassium nitrate but it's similar to how stannous fluoride desensitizes teeth.


Hydroxyapatite toothpaste - Boka Ela Mint
Hydroxyapatite toothpaste - Boka Ela Mint

Table of contents:


Is hydroxyapatite good for sensitive teeth?

Hydroxyapatite in toothpaste is more widely known as a fluoride alternative but it also comes with teeth desensitizing effects. Yes, it's anti-sensitivity properties have been demonstrated in multiple studies.


Studies have shown that hydroxyapatite toothpastes are non-inferior and equivalent to fluoridated ones in remineralizing small cavities. Although interestingly enough, the same mechanism that it uses to prevent cavities can also be used to decrease sensitivity.


Studies have shown it was effective in reducing teeth whitening sensitivity.

  • Another 9 month follow up study also confirmed that those using the toothpaste had reduced symptoms compared to those who didn't.


Whitening your teeth will usually make them much more sensitive than normal since that is an expected side effect. If it can work against the exaggerated bleaching sensitivity, it will definitely work in reducing daily teeth sensitivity under normal circumstances.


Overall, it has been well established that it does have anti-sensitivity effects when used on a daily basis. Studies have confirmed that it is statistically significant in desensitizing when compared to fluoride toothpastes and placebos.


Examples of nano-hydroxyapatite toothpastes:

  • David's toothpaste

  • Risewell mineral toothpaste

  • Boka Ela Mint

  • Dr Brite extreme whitening

  • Dr Jen natural restoring toothpaste with nano-hydroxyapatite


In conclusion, hydroxyapatite in toothpaste is good for sensitive teeth.


 

How hydroxyapatite decreases sensitivity

The mechanism for how hydroxyapatite decreases tooth sensitivity is by occluding open dentinal tubules and creating a barrier layer over the enamel.


How hydroxyapatite reduce sensitivity:

  • Occludes exposed dentinal tubules to prevent nerve stimulation.

  • Forms a barrier over the enamel to protect nerve from stimuli.


Occluding exposed dentinal tubules

Under normal conditions, the dentinal tubules are covered by smear plugs which prevents stimuli from reaching the nerves.


Smear Plugs with and without sensitivity
Credit: KoR

However if you have exposed and wide open dentinal tubules, you will have a direct path for stimuli to interact with the tooth nerve. This means that stimuli can travel straight to the pulp without any impediment. Imagine eating something spicy and it goes straight to the nerve. If it sounds discomforting, you can bet it'll feel discomforting as well.


How nano-hydroxyapatite (n-HAp) reduces tooth sensitivity is by occluding the open tubules. Since the size of the particles are smaller than the diameter of the tubules, it is able to enter into it and form a plug and seal it off. Research has also shown that the smaller hydroxyapatite molecules tend to perform better than the larger ones in helping prevent sensitivity.


schema of hydroxyapatite reducing dentin hypersensitivity
Credit: Lijie Chen, Suma Al-Bayatee, Zohaib Khurshid, Amin Shavandi, Paul Brunton and Jithendra Ratnayake

What helps the n-HAp form the plug is that the substance is biocompatible and biomimetic. Your tooth enamel is actually made of 97% hydroxyapatite by weight. Since they are literally the same substance, it will readily enter into the tubules and interact with the tooth structure to form a plug. Like is attracted to like.


Forms a barrier layer over the enamel

The nano-hydroxyapatite doesn't just plug and seal the dentinal tubules because it also builds an additional layer of hydroxyapatite over the enamel surface.


The hydroxyapatite plug doesn't just stop at the orifice of the tubules. It will actually continue to build over the entire surface of the enamel. This means that there is an additional layer of protection covering the tooth surface.



Whenever you drink a cold beverage, you'll have this additional layer of apatite along with the dentinal plugs to prevent it from stimulating your nerve. If you eat something acidic or spicy, it will need to dissolve this protective layer first before it can even reach your enamel. Due to this, it is often referred to as the "sacrificial" layer.


 

Is hydroxyapatite safe to use?

Hydroxyapatite is completely safe to use because it is a naturally occurring form of calcium apatite. Your teeth and your bones are literally made of it, which is why it is sometimes referred to as "bone mineral".


In fact, according to scientific studies your bones consist around 60% of hydroxyapatite. That is in contrast to your enamel and dentin which are 97% and 70% hydroxyapatite respectively.


It is due to this bone mineral that gives your teeth and bones their structural hardness. Yes, since your teeth have a higher percentage of this mineral it does make it the hardest substance in the human body.


Since the hydroxyapatite is what your bones and teeth are made of, it makes it highly biocompatible, biomimetic, non-toxic, and non-allergenic. In case you were wondering what would happen if you swallowed it, absolutely nothing bad will occur. Studies show that it will not produce irritation.


The molecular structure of hydroxyapatite is Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2 which means that it is basically made up of calciums and phosphates. If it comes into contact with gastric acids in your stomach, it simply just breaks up into its individual components. You would merely end up with a bunch of calcium and phosphates which can be absorbed and reused for your bones or teeth.


Pros & Cons

There are advantages and disadvantages to using hydroxyapatite toothpaste but the former far outweighs the latter.


Pros:

  • Viable alternative to fluoride in remineralizing tooth decay.

  • Can desensitize your teeth which sodium fluoride can't.

  • Biomimetic which means it is considered all natural.

  • Makes your teeth appear whiter since calcium is white in color.

  • Reduces plaque build up.


Cons:

  • Costs more than fluoridated toothpaste.

  • Not as widely found at pharmacies.


Verdict

The short answer is yes, hydroxyapatite toothpastes are good for sensitive teeth. Using it twice a day daily will help reduce dentinal hypersensitivity.


How hydroxyapatite help with sensitivity:

  • Plugs and seals all open dentinal tubules.

  • Form a barrier layer of hydroxyapatite which coats the entire enamel surface.


Both of these effects work to block all harmful stimuli from reaching and stimulating the tooth nerve. In other words, it is a viable mechanism in preventing and minimizing tooth sensitivity.


That is different from how potassium nitrate in sensodyne works. If the potassium nitrate isn't working for you, you can give this product a try and see if it helps. In the opinion of our dentist in Long Island City, you can give this toothpaste a try.

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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