How Does Fluoride for Teeth Work?

How often do you brush your teeth? Most likely in the morning and in the evening or each time after having a meal. And how often have you thought about what substances are in the toothpaste you use daily? Probably not often. It’s just something you use and basta.

As with most things nowadays, more and more scrutiny comes to play when analyzing specific products in our daily lives.

And toothpaste did not get around that. As with fatty foods and other things, researchers are busy looking at dental hygiene products and their effect on the human body – in this case, your teeth.

What is Fluoride

Fluorides are the salts of hydrofluoric acid. Solid fluorine compounds are, for example, calcium fluoride or sodium fluoride.

Fluoride compounds are natural elements from the earth’s crust. It is therefore natural that a small dose of fluoride is contained in ordinary water.

Plants absorb this naturally occurring element directly from the groundwater. Therefore, a small amount of fluoride is contained in our food and water. And it also accumulates in the tissues of animals and plants.

Great, this stuff is a biological substance so it must be good!

Despite the fact that fluoride is a natural element, it is toxic to us humans. An injection of below ten percent of an ounce of sodium fluoride (a standard component in toothpaste) is lethal.

The content of the stuff in a tube of a medium-sized toothpaste is enough to kill a small child when the whole container is consumed in one go as it contains a much higher concentration compared to nature.

Fluoride was added to drinking water because it was believed that fluoride is beneficial for dental health and prevents tooth decay. In some countries, such as the US for example, about 2/3 of the drinking water contains fluoride.

Learn more about: Acid Attack

How Did it All Start?

Fluoride’s success story began with a pre-1970s observation that drinking water was virtually the only source of fluoride: In areas where the trace element was naturally present in drinking water, people were more likely to have white spots on their teeth.

But they also developed significantly fewer caries than the people in comparable regions, in which the drinking water hardly contained any fluoride.

How Does Fluoride Work in the Fight Against Tooth Decay?

It is believed that fluoride is toxic to bacteria. Bacteria, like all living things, need food. And sugary foods in the mouth are an ideal breeding ground for bacteria that cause diseases of the teeth and the periodontium. Fluoride poisons bacteria so that their ability to process sugar is reduced.

See, sugar affects on a tooth here.

Ergo – Adios to Those Bad Guys.

Unfortunately, fluoride is so toxic that not only the bacteria but also other cells in our mouth are poisoned right away.

Fluoride also hardens the enamel and makes it more resistant to caries bacteria. But hard coating on the teeth splits much faster through the ingestion of solid foods than ‘untreated’ tooth enamel. The natural, softer tooth enamel is so much more resistant than the fluoride hardened one.

The Right Toothbrush

Keep in mind that when you are using toothpaste with fluoride, you should also have a quality toothbrush.

There are a few options available below:

The Dangers of Using Fluoride

Fluoride ToothpasteFluorides can cause serious health problems, even if they are present in only small doses, e.g. if it is absorbed via toothpaste or fluoridated water. If inhaled in large quantities, fluoride will cause severe respiratory irritation, coughs, a sore throat, and dyspnea.

  • Some of the symptoms range from increased salivation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain to weakness, tremors, shortness of breath, heart attack, convulsions, to coma. Besides, the brain and kidneys are affected.
  • Contact with the skin causes irritation, redness, and pain as fluorides have a corrosive effect.
  • Long-lasting, high doses of fluoride cause damage to the teeth and bones.

So, it’s time to stay away?

No, not completely. Today, numerous studies unambiguously prove the positive effect of this trace element. With modern toothpaste, fluoride can prevent up to 40 percent of all caries types cases.

Whiter Smile! Good News, Huh!

After having read the above, you are probably still skeptical, but this is due to a chemical misunderstanding: Unlike the name suggests, fluoride has little to do with the highly toxic, pure fluorine.

As already indicated, the chemical element is indeed highly reactive and eats through many materials. However, in contrast, the fluoride, which occurs as a salt (for example, sodium or calcium fluoride), is mostly harmless. Similarly, it is common salt (sodium chloride), which has little to do with the chlorine in the pool. If you are trying to whiten your teeth using fluoride, we would recommend on reading the highest quality teeth whiteners for you.

Nevertheless, it is advisable to control your fluoride intake. This does not mean that you should stop using toothpaste altogether. Awareness is key here. So, keep brushing but be mindful to consider certain precautions.

Head over to next topic: How to Floss Your Teeth

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