Fluoride is a mineral that is needed for the development of teeth and bones. It is included in tooth enamel and ‘incorporated’ in bone. This way, fluoride strengthens bone structure and protects from dental decay. In food, fluorine appears as fluoride.
A very small amount of fluoride is found in almost all foods. It is mostly found in tea and sea fish. In some countries, fluoride is added to drinking water. In order to prevent dental decay, fluoride is often added to toothpastes or fluoride is taken as tablets.
Fluoride, along with calcium and phosphorus, provides for the structure of bone cells. In teeth, fluoride reacts with a mineral, so a fluorinated salt is formed. This salt is less soluble and will therefore better stop dental plaque. The enamel gets harder by fluoride and more acid-resistant. Because the teeth are getting harder and stronger, dental decay will have less chance.
Excessive and prolonged use of fluoride is harmful to the body. So, important enzymes may be neutralized. Calcium may be less well absorbed, resulting in a shortage of calcium. In addition, bones, kidneys, muscles and nerves can also be affected by a large amount of fluoride. Using many fluoride tablets can cause brown spots and stripes on the teeth. These are called zebra teeth.
- Fluorine was discovered in 1886 by the French chemist Henri Moissan.
- The term ‘fluorine’ is derived from the Latin word fluere (floating, flowing).
- In the periodic table of elements, fluorine has the symbol F and atomic number 9. The color is pale yellow.
- Fluoride is a trace element. This means that only very small quantities are needed (micrograms to milligrams).