Fluoride occurs naturally in the body as calcium fluoride, found primarily in the bones and teeth.
Fluoride's best known effect is to serve as a catalyst for both the mineralization of developing tooth enamel prior to tooth eruption and for remineralization of surface enamel.
Food Sources of Fluorine
Good food sources include tea and fish. Drinking water can be a rich source and we also take in some fluoride when we use products such as toothpaste and mouthwash with added fluoride.
Very small amounts are also in the air we breathe. Fluoridated water and food prepared in that type of water will contain fluoride. Natural fluoride is present in the ocean as sodium fluoride, so most seafood contains some form of fluoride. Tea and gelatin also contain fluoride.
Benefits and Functions of Fluorine
Small amounts of fluoride help reduce tooth decay. Fluoridation of water supplies helped reduce dental caries (cavities) in children by 50-60%. Fluorides are also involved in the maintenance of bone structure. Low doses of fluoride salts can sometimes be used, under the supervision of a doctor, for the treatment of conditions that cause accelerated bone loss, such as menopause and prolonged immobility.
It isn't clear how much fluoride we need for good health. But we do know that people whose drinking water contains fluoride at about one part per million tend to have less tooth decay than similar groups of people where the concentrations of fluoride are much lower.
The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences has concluded that a fluoride intake of 0.05 mg/kg body weight, after the age of 6 months, provides an adequate fluoride intake to reduce risk of dental decay. It is assumed that this fluoride will come from a combination of food and water sources.
What are the deficiency symptoms of Fluorine?
Fluoride deficiency may appear in the form of increased cavities and unstable bones and teeth.
Overdosage Signs of Fluorine
When there is a high amount of fluoride in the drinking water, a problem called chronic dental fluorosis can occur. The tooth enamel becomes dull and unglazed with some pitting (mottled enamel). At very high concentrations (over 2.5 parts per million) dark brown stains appear on the teeth. Although unsightly, these teeth rarely have any cavities. In addition, high fluoride intake (20-80 milligrams per day) over a period of many years can cause skeletal fluorosis, which causes the bones to be chalky and brittle.