Friday, April 3, 2015

About Fluoride in Tooth Paste

So this post will be about fluoride. The reason I choose to write about this is the fact that many people seem to have misunderstood the dangers about fluoride. Before I start, let me give some disclaimers so that you can understand my point of stand:

  • I come from Sweden. In Sweden, we do not fluoridate the water as it is done in the US. Therefore, I do mainly refer on the dangers of using fluoridating tooth paste. Not whether or not fluoridating your water supply implies a danger to your health, although this topic will also be addressed 
  • Again, I want to debunk the believe that fluoride in tooth past poses a health danger, as long as you don't eat the paste.

As many of us know, fluoride is a great tool to fight caries . This has been demonstrated time and time again. There is a bunch of scientific papers which discusses the benefits of fluoride agains tooth decay. Here is one of many.

As I said in the disclaimer, more than 1,5 mg/L fluoride in drinking water is not recommended (that is about 1,5 ppm fluoride) as this will lead to fluorosis. In some areas and countries, such as in Teneriffe, Iceland, some regions of India, China, the US etc, the NATURAL levels are way higher than those values and is not recommended to drink from that water.

Fluoride in Tooth Paste

Now, let us return to the main topic: fluoride in tooth paste. What happens in your mouth and why is fluoride effective against caries?

Emanel is mainly constituted by a mineral called hydroxylapatite Ca5(PO4)3(OH). When the pH of the mouth decreases, demineralization occurs. The chemical process can be described as shown below:


What fluoride does is that it replaces the hydroxyl ion with fluoride, forming fluorapatite Ca5(PO4)3F.  Fluorapatite withstands the acidic attack much better than hydroxyapatite, effectively delaying/inhibiting tooth decay.

Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2(s) + 2F-(aq) 
 Ca10(PO4)6(F)2(s) 2OH-

New studies have shone light to some new findings. It does also appear as if bacteria has a hard time creating colonies on fluorapatite. Less bacteria in your mouth will indirectly mean less acid is produced after a meal, and thus, less chances your teeth will be damaged by caries.

To conclude, fluoride is good for your teeth and there is very little evidence demonstrating the dangers of fluoride in small concentrations on your body (eg, what you get through tooth-brushing).  In next post, I will talk a bit about my conversations with people about fluoride and cancer. Peace & Love :)

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