What is Fluoride?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Fluoride is a chemical additive that is helpful in strengthening and protecting enamel on the surface of teeth. It is one form of reduced fluorine, which is used in applications that range from use in fluorocarbons to products that effectively clean glass or remove paint from a wooden or brick surface. When used as a halogen, fluorine develops into a monovalent ion. Fluorine is also an element in a number of drug compounds used to treat a variety of health ailments.

A toothbrush with fluoride toothpaste on it.
A toothbrush with fluoride toothpaste on it.

Unlike some forms of fluorine, dental fluoride is used to nourish and enhance the stability and strength of teeth, effectively making them less susceptible to the development of cavities or damage from chewing or similar tasks.

Fluoride can help strengthen the enamel in teeth.
Fluoride can help strengthen the enamel in teeth.

There are essentially three different ways to fortify the teeth with this substance. One of the most common is the introduction of fluoride into the water systems of many communities. This is usually thought to help inhibit tooth decay even if the members of the community do not see a dentist on a regular basis. While the addition of fluoride to water systems has been relatively common since the middle of the 20th century, there is some opposition to the practice. However, the process is still supported by organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States and similar agencies in other countries.

Fluoride is in many drinking water supplies.
Fluoride is in many drinking water supplies.

A second method for introducing this substance to the teeth is to use a fluoride toothpaste as part of the daily oral care strategy. It may surprise some people to discover that not all brands of toothpaste include fluoride in their formulas. For this reason, it is recommended to check the ingredients of the toothpaste before purchase to ensure that the substance is indeed listed. Using the toothpaste after each meal is recommended to achieve the most benefit.

Dentists may also administer fluoride treatments to patients. This is usually in the form of a topical application that takes place after the teeth have been cleaned and any evidence of cavities have been removed from the teeth. For people who tend to not brush regularly with a fluoride toothpaste or live in an area where it is not added to the drinking water, these types of applications can go a long way toward maintaining strong teeth.

In areas where regular dental checkups and fluoridated water systems are not common, it is also fairly common for common table salt to be infused with fluoride. While not as effective as other methods, the introduction of the the substance into the salt does help to minimize the incidence of tooth decay and allow people to enjoy a higher standard of dental health than would be possible otherwise.

Table salt is often infused with fluoride.
Table salt is often infused with fluoride.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments

Noelers14

My severe dental problems (Peridontitis) and general health have improved enormously since I began to disregard the advice of dentists (those folks who will tell you that having a mouth full of mercury amalgam fillings is harmless!) and the criminal, corrupt, Irish banker government that insists that fluoride poisoned water is good for us, while charging taxpayers to filter it out of their own supply at their HQ.

Avoid fluoride toothpastes, fluoridated water and fluoride- contaminated foodstuffs as much as possible and feel the benefits.

anon163768

where do you find fluorine?

anon55419

why are people allowed to put arsenic in our water?

anon47634

Dental fluoride Is hydrofluorosilicic acid and in some cases sodium fluoride. H2SF4 is the a fluoride that contains arsenic. And yes the fluoride that is added in most cases, to your water contains arsenic.

anon47205

A little fact most people pay no attention to, fluoride combined with stomach acid becomes fluoricic (sp?) acid which will wreak havoc on our internal system.

anon44546

fluoride was used by the germans and the russians during World War II as a means of 'dumbing down' its prisoners, making them easier to handle, less likely to revolt. And we have been sold the same product, that has nothing to do with teeth. think on world!

anon38718

what a load of rubbish. fluoride does not nourish and enhance the stability and strength of teeth. It was a teeth damaging natural water pollutant way before it was a cavity-fighting water supply additive. have you forgotten the "Colorado Brown Stain" era? fluorideation studies are *flawed*! or should I say a *fraud*!!!

anon25381

What is dental fluoride?

anon25380

What is the chemical name given to 'dental' fluoride (as mentioned in the above article)?

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