When it comes to shopping for toothpaste, it’s not always easy to determine which ingredients are safe and what to avoid. It’s also not obvious how certain ingredients might interact together, as in the case of glycerin and hydroxyapatite.
If you are new to hydroxyapatite, it is a much healthier, safer alternative to fluoride. We will dive into the dangers of fluoride below, but many are now choosing a toothpaste that is fluoride-free and instead uses a more natural way to strengthen your teeth and avoid cavities.
This is where hydroxyapatite comes into the picture. You most likely see it in natural toothpaste and has become quite popular among dentists. What you might not be aware of is that any toothpaste that uses hydroxyapatite should not include glycerin. Why? Glycerin hinders hydroxyapatite from doing its job — and makes it harder to maintain good oral health.
The problem with this toothpaste cocktail is that glycerin can coat the teeth, making hydroxyapatite less effective and blocking the teeth from remineralizing. So unless your toothpaste is glycerin-free, any beneficial ingredients like hydroxyapatite will not aid your oral health.
We want to make it easy for you to shop with confidence the next time you scan the ingredient list on a tube of toothpaste. Many brands are leading you astray when they use hydroxyapatite with glycerin in their formula and appear to miss the boat when it comes to the research on glycerin.
Below, take a closer look at glycerin, why to buy glycerin-free toothpaste, and how you can ensure that the products you use to clean your gums and pearly whites are beneficial — not harmful — for your oral health.
The Problem With Glycerin
Glycerin is widely used in toothpaste because of its apparent ability to provide an extended-release flavor, improve the mouthfeel after brushing, and add body to the paste. Think of the squeaky clean feeling after lathering up your hands with a bar of soap, and that’ll give you a feel for glycerin’s purpose inside the mouth.
Glycerin does have some undesirable qualities, however, which make it a less than ideal ingredient for toothpaste. Because glycerin leaves behind a slippery coat, this coat of glycerin becomes a magnet for plaque. Instead of cleaning and protecting your teeth, it makes your mouth more prone to decay and other oral health issues.
What’s more, glycerin itself may be synthetically made or derived from genetically modified ingredients like soy. Most vegetable glycerin is a byproduct of industrial chemical reactions that occur in soap-making processes. As it turns out, that soap analogy above is quite spot-on.
What Is Hydroxyapatite?
So what is hydroxyapatite, and why would we want to make sure we’re extracting all its possible benefits? Touted as an alternative to fluoride, hydroxyapatite is a form of calcium that comprises most of the tooth enamel and the dentin in your teeth. The remaining enamel is made up of water, collagen, and other proteins.
Hydroxyapatite is also considered to be an effective method for tooth remineralization, which may help to heal cavities and prevent new ones. Furthermore, in one 2019 study published in BDJ Open, researchers found that hydroxyapatite was just as effective as fluoride in preventing and reversing tooth decay in children.
It’s no wonder hydroxyapatite is becoming more and more popular in many natural toothpaste brands.
What Is Fluoride?
So hydroxyapatite is an alternative to fluoride — and an equally effective one at that — but why would you want an alternative to fluoride in the first place? When you see fluoride as a major ingredient in most mainstream dental-care products, you may understandably question why you would want to entertain replacing it with something else.
To answer that question, we’ll first take a look at what fluoride is and where it comes from. Derived from the element fluorine, fluoride occurs widely throughout nature. Other places where you might find fluoride include:
- Fluoridated water or salt. Many municipalities in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia add fluoride to their public water supplies. You will most likely find it in your tap water.
- Some foods. Foods may absorb fluoride from the soil or from water.
- Dental care products. It’s common to see fluoride in toothpaste and mouthwashes.
The Problem With Fluoride
Unfortunately, consuming high amounts of fluoride can cause unwanted side effects that overshadow any potential dental health benefits. Adding fluoride to toothpaste and mouth rinses may be an unnecessary and even dangerous step, given the prevalence of this compound in nature. Research shows that:
- Prescription-strength toothpaste containing fluoride is formulated to be acidic. The acid in such toothpaste breaks down your teeth so that a greater amount of fluoride can enter.
- Fluoride in water travels via your bloodstream to all parts of your body. It can cross the blood-brain barrier, becoming neurotoxic, and can also be passed along to a developing fetus as well as to breastfeeding babies.
- When you regularly consume fluoride, about 50% of it accumulates in your teeth, bones, cartilage, and anywhere else where your body stores calcium. In animals, the accumulation of fluoride in the brain alters the levels of key neurotransmitters.
Given the potential risks of excessive fluoride use, it’s clear why hydroxyapatite deserves to be the main ingredient in your daily dental routine and products. .
Benefits of Hydroxyapatite
Toothpaste that is glycerin-free and contains hydroxyapatite instead of fluoride offers distinct benefits for your oral health. Wellnesse is the only brand of toothpaste that uses hydroxyapatite and is glycerin-free — plus, we are fluoride-free, eliminating the risks of fluoride use. Take a look at just eight of the potential benefits of hydroxyapatite:
- It can aid in the prevention and healing of cavities through remineralization. It also can help to increase the microhardness of tooth enamel.
- It’s more effective in the prevention and reversal of enamel erosion than fluoridated toothpaste.
- It’s non-toxic, unlike fluoride at high levels.
- It’s biocompatible, meaning your body recognizes hydroxyapatite as a substance that belongs there and isn’t likely to react negatively to it.
- Hydroxyapatite strengthens the overall structure of teeth, making teeth appear whiter.
- Opposite from fluoride, hydroxyapatite protects your teeth from harmful bacteria while preserving your oral microbiome.
- Hydroxyapatite resists acidic pH, keeping the pH of the mouth slightly alkaline to avoid inflammation and oral disease.
- Hydroxyapatite can improve gum health, reducing plaque, bleeding gums, and pocket depth.
More Ways to Promote Dental Health
Dental health is about more than just keeping your smile clean and fresh. Good dental hygiene can help keep your teeth and gums strong, thereby preventing cavities, gum disease, bad breath, and other problems.
In addition to using toothpaste that contains hydroxyapatite and is glycerin-free, you can take a few other simple steps to avoid many dental problems — while boosting oral health for yourself and your family. With good oral hygiene, you can prevent the buildup of plaque, which causes dental caries and disease of the gums. Here are just a few habits to start building at home:
- Brush your teeth twice a day to remove plaque, food particles, and other debris. Use floss daily to get in between teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach.
- Use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush. Place the brush at a 45-degree angle to the gums, and brush in small, circular motions for two minutes.
- Brush the outer surfaces, inner surfaces, and chewing surfaces of the teeth, and clean gently under the gum line. Don’t forget your tongue (we recommend tongue scraping).
- A healthy diet is the foundation of good oral health. Limit sugar, and fill your diet with a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.
Toothpaste, Hold the Glycerin
While hydroxyapatite is said to combat tooth decay, clearly this compound cannot work effectively when glycerin is included. As glycerin leaves its slippery coating behind, it also keeps hydroxyapatite from providing remineralization benefits.
This is why, at Wellnesse, we have formulated our toothpastes to contain hydroxyapatite but also remain glycerin-free as well as fluoride-free. With the Wellnesse line of toothpastes, you can feel confident that the products you use to clean your teeth and gums are beneficial — not harmful — for your oral health.