Hydroxyapatite is quite a mouthful. It definitely looks like a word right out of a chemistry or geology textbook, and there’s a good reason for that. The word itself is a scientific, descriptive term to describe a specific crystal form of a particular mineral. But, there’s absolutely no reason to let hydroxyapatite’s scientific pedigree intimidate you out of learning about it. It’s a tremendously valuable mineral for daily life, and it has several common uses.
Seriously, Though, What Is It?
Hydroxyapatite is a naturally occurring form of the mineral calcium apatite—calcium, phosphorous, and oxygen—that grows in hexagonal crystals. Pure hydroxyapatite is white in color. It makes up most of the human bone structure, builds tooth enamel, and collects in tiny amounts in part of the brain. Although scientists have known about hydroxyapatite for quite a while, recent developments in materials science and nano technology have made it more practical to make hydroxyapatite in a lab setting for medical uses. Hydroxyapatite is a rare material, in that it is a bioactive material, so it is one of the few lab-made materials that will help bones and teeth grow.
So, What Does it Get Used For?
With recent developments in materials science and in nano-materials, there has been a fair amount of research and development dedicated to growing and finding the best uses for hydroxyapatite. Non-medical uses that have shown promise include air filtration to remove carbon dioxide and a filter to remove fluoride from saturated soil. But, where hydroxyapatite really shines is in medical applications.
Because it helps stimulate bone growth, nano hydroxyapatite is most frequently used in surgeries involving bones and tooth enamel. Joint replacement implants can be coated with nano hydroxyapatite. The body is less likely to reject those implants, and the mineral coating encourages new bone growth around the implant, anchoring it more effectively. Calcium supplements of hydroxyapatite have shown early promise for maintaining bone health better than calcium carbonate supplements, although more research in this area is needed.
What About Hydroxyapatite in the Mouth?
Tooth enamel is almost all hydroxyapatite. Oral care products that incorporate this mineral have greatly improved dental practice for patients. Dental implants that are coated in nano hydroxyapatite encourage bone growth and implant more effectively than non-coated implants. It can be added to dental filling agents used to repair serious cavities. It also has been shown to reduce or eliminate tooth sensitivity after whitening. It also can improve outcomes with dental implants much like it can with bone implants in the rest of the body. It has become an important tool in the periodontal and oral surgery specialties.
You don’t need to be a candidate for oral surgery to benefit from nanohydroxyapatite. Products that contain it have benefits for teeth that are lacking minerals from the enamel and are showing pre-cavity lesions. Regular use of hydroxyapatite products can help healthy teeth stay healthy and avoid becoming demineralized in the first place. CariFree products are formulated with bioavailable nanohydroxyapatite to provide the greatest cavity-fighting and cavity preventing benefits to patients.
In addition to its ability to help remineralize tooth surfaces that have been damaged, hydroxyapatite shows the ability to help control bacteria that contribute to caries disease. Specifically, mutans streptococci, a bacteria closely correlated to caries formation, cannot stick to teeth as well in the presence of nano hydroxyapatite. This leads to a reduction in the number of harmful bacteria in the mouth and improved resistance to caries formation.
Don’t let the long, complicated name fool you. Hydroxyapatite is simply a form of the calcium mineral that your body can use to repair itself. Improvements in the field of materials science have made hydroxyapatite more available for medical use. Its use in dentistry has led to better preventive care and more successful treatment of dental disease.