What is Fluoride?

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Fluoride is an element that occurs naturally in water, soil, foods and varied minerals like fluorite and fluorapatite. Out of all elements found on earth’s crust, fluoride ranks 13th in abundance. Fluoride is a chemical ion in the fluorine element. It contains one additional electron that makes its charge negative. In seawater, the amount of fluoride averages 1.3 parts per million. In fresh water, fluoride content is much lower and typically ranges from 0.01 and 0.3 parts per million. There are places where fluoride concentration in fresh water is dangerously high causing health problems to people. Fluoride may also be manufactured in laboratories. Artificially manufactured fluoride is mostly added to toothpastes, water, mouthwashes as well as other varied chemical items.

Important Role of Fluoride

Fluoride is added to water because it is said to reduce tooth decay. This was discovered by scientists in the 1930s when they realized that there were less tooth cavities in people raised in places where water is naturally fluoridated as opposed to those raised in places with where water is not fluoridated. Fluoride protects teeth by offering protection against demineralization and remineralization. Demineralization occurs when bacteria and sugars in the mouth mix and create acid. The acid corrodes the tooth enamel which damages teeth. Fluoride protects teeth against corrosion by acid. Remineralization occurs when fluoride accumulates on demineralized sections of damaged teeth and in the process, strengthens teeth enamel. Though fluoride is very important in cavity prevention, it is not as effective in situations where cavities are already formed. Fluoride stops the tooth decay process by changing the structure of enamel development to increase its resistance against acid. These changes in structure happen as the enamel develops during the first seven years of life. It also creates an environment that allows formation of quality enamel that is acid resistant and reduces the ability of bacteria to generate acid which is the main cause of teeth decay.