Hydroxyapatite October 2018

I recently discovered some scientific papers about a new kind of toothpaste, containing something called hydroxyapatite. It’s a chemical that is comprised of minerals in a similar form to those found in bones, teeth in particular. It acts in a different way than conventional fluoride toothpaste, and the studies I read suggest that it pretty consistently results in remineralization (healing) of your teeth and less cavities. Because fluoride is a pretty awful neurotoxin, a science-backed alternative seems appealing.

Jess and I ordered a tube on Amazon directly from Japan, where they are ahead of the game on commercializing it. Compared to normal toothpaste it appears to be about ten times as expensive. At this point, that is probably a non-starter for most people, unless you could somehow price the neurotoxic downsides of fluoride and the savings on dental insurance into the cost. The tube that arrived a month later in the mail is, if anything, smaller than normal toothpaste. All of that said though, if it does a better job and is not a neurotoxin, it’s worth it.

I just tried it for the first time and it’s definitely a more pleasant experience than normal toothpaste. Beyond the learned childhood anxiety for avoiding swallowing fluoride toothpaste, it’s more pleasant to brush with and tastes quite mild. It doesn’t seem to have noticeable textural or taste elements at all, just basic paste. My teeth definitely feel different than with fluoride toothpaste: much less sticky (fluoride sticks to your teeth on purpose, to attract calcium phosphate ions in hopes it will repair your enamel) and more smooth.

Over time the cost to produce and distribute will come down. It won’t just be overly conscientious nerds from Canada buying it from overseas. As a result, we should be able to phase out fluoride toothpaste. I imagine the dynamics of the industry are similar to that of other controlled distribution industries that have existed for a long time: first they ignore you, then they fight you, then you win. P&G probably knows well that this ingredient is out there, and when the time is right I have no doubt they’ll adapt. It is going to take some kind of Musk-like mission driven challenger to get the market there, otherwise we’ll be stuck rubbing a sticky neurotoxin in our teeth in the futile hopes of repairing them from acid wear.

There are, it would appear, other ways.