Toothpaste containing synthetic tooth minerals can prevent cavities as effectively as fluoride

Can we improve on the toothpaste we use to maintain clean teeth, preventing medical issues that spiral from poor dental health? Most toothpastes use fluoride, a powerful tool for oral hygiene. However, fluoride can pose health problems in some cases, especially for children who consume too much by swallowing toothpaste. In the search for alternatives, a team of international scientists and Polish clinicians have identified a hydroxyapatite toothpaste that works just as well as fluoride toothpaste to protect against cavities.

To see if it would help patients without specific dental conditions, the clinicians recruited 189 adults aged 18-45 to take part in an 18-month double blind, randomised, clinical trial. They aimed to see all patients through to the end of the study without an increase in cavities.

A total of 171 patients completed the trial, evenly split between the hydroxyapatite toothpaste group and the control group with fluoridated toothpaste. All patients had at least ten teeth without cavities, were willing to use an electric toothbrush, and had no pre-existing tooth problems in need of treatment. Patients were provided with electric toothbrushes and replacement heads for these, as well as neutrally packaged toothpaste that could have contained either the hydroxyapatite toothpaste or a fluoride toothpaste. Neither patients nor examiners knew which toothpaste a given patient was using, and patients used no other oral care products.

At the end of the trial, the scientists found that nearly 90% of patients in both groups had no new cavities. There was no statistical difference in efficacy between the patients using a hydroxyapatite toothpaste and the control group using a fluoride toothpaste: both worked equally well.