In dentistry, the fluoridation of teeth is carried out as a prophylactic measure. Numerous scientific studies prove that fluoride helps in caries prophylaxis.
In dentistry, only low doses of fluoride are used, which are completely harmless to health. For example, the fluoride content in toothpaste is limited to 1500ppm (parts per million). In children’s toothpaste, it is reduced to 250 to 500ppm, because children swallow a large part of the toothpaste and could systemically absorb too high a dose of fluoride in combination with fluoride tablets.
How does fluoride work?
Every day, food causes acid attacks on the enamel. In the process, the enamel is demineralised, i.e. calcium is dissolved out of the enamel.
On the other hand, calcium from the saliva is also reintegrated, this process is called remineralisation. As long as demineralisation and remineralisation balance each other out, caries will not form. Only when remineralisation can no longer replace the loss of calcium will caries develop.
Fluorides support the remineralisation of saliva and thus help to prevent the spread of caries. The onset of decalcification due to acid attack does not occur on the surface of the enamel, but immediately below it.
As long as the surface is not yet destroyed, remineralisation can prevent the outbreak of a carious defect. However, if destruction of the surface has already occurred, the process can no longer be stopped by remineralisation. This promotion of remineralisation is the one particularly important effect of fluorides.
The second effect of fluorides is the hardening of the enamel by incorporating fluorine ions into the enamel. This increases the fluorine content in the apatite of the enamel, which improves the crystal structure and reduces solubility. Both result in a higher resistance to acid attacks. The enamel hardened in this way cannot be attacked so easily by acid. Fluorides thus have a preventive and a repairing effect.
What are the side effects?
If fluorides are used in therapeutic doses, no side effects occur. The situation is different, however, if they are used in too high a dose, then fluoride poisoning can occur. Especially in children, the effects on the teeth are very noticeable. The permanent teeth can get discolouration, which is called fluorosis.
In most cases, brown stains on the teeth can be seen later on in the case of excessive intake in childhood. In addition, a tooth damaged by fluoride is no longer as resistant as an undamaged tooth. Excessive fluoridation occurs, for example, when drinking water is fluoridated, fluoride toothpaste is used and fluoride tablets are also administered. Therefore, if possible, one should take this substance through food or jellies in order to be able to do without tablets.
If there is an external fluoride overdose, whitish spots may appear on the teeth.
In adults, there are no side effects on the teeth, but symptoms of poisoning such as intestinal irritation, vomiting or diarrhoea may occur. If these symptoms occur, it is essential to consult a doctor. If you have ingested too much fluoride, a glass of milk can help. The calcium contained in milk binds the excess fluoride. Please consult your paediatrician or dentist about the exact amount of fluoride to be ingested.
What are fluorides?
Fluorides are fluorine salts that are formed from a compound of fluorine with inorganic or organic elements such as:
• Sodium • Calcium • Zinc • Amine
The salt formation results in completely different properties in contrast to pure fluorine gas. Only these harmless fluorine compounds are used in prophylactic applications in dentistry. The harmlessness of salts consisting of two very toxic individual substances is best demonstrated by common salt. It consists of the very toxic chlorine and the also very toxic sodium. Together they form sodium chloride, i.e. common salt, which we consume every day and which is even essential for life.
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