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Beatrice Preti

Fluoride: To Take or Not to Take?

Fluoride is frequently recommended as a dental supplement, but how much do we really know about it?The term “fluoride” refers to the negative ion (anion) of the element fluorine (n=9). Fluoride is a more stable form of its parent atom, since it has a full set of valence electrons, which makes it less likely to react with surrounding molecules. Fluoride is often found in combination with other elements, such as sodium, in the form of salts, such as sodium fluoride (Tubert-Jeannin et al 2011).Fluoride is widely believed to promote dental health. However, throughout recent decades, the administration of fluoride has been surrounded by controversy and resistance. Many individuals believe fluoride’s negative effects far outweigh any positive dental health possibilities.Positive Dental Health Benefits of FluorideDental caries (or “cavities”) are defined as structural damage, typically holes, occurring in the teeth [1]. This damage may result in pain or general discomfort, if not permanent incapacitation or loss of the teeth involved.Cavities are primarily caused by improper oral hygiene. Food must pass through the mouth to enter the body and undergo complete digestion. Digestion, the process of breaking down food, actually begins in the mouth, where enzymes, such as salivary amylase, and bacteria act upon carbohydrates. This process produces acids [2].The acid then binds to teeth and traps bacteria, food particles, and saliva. This mixture is called plaque. Plaque wears away a structural coating on teeth called enamel. When enamel is broken down, the soft interior of the teeth (dentin) becomes vulnerable to degradation [1]. This is the beginning of a cavity.Without treatment, the acidic plaque may eventually degrade the tooth enough reach blood vessels and nerves. This causes the pain sensations experienced [2]. Contrary to popular belief, plaque is not just formed from candy and sweet foods, but can be formed from many… Read More