The Effects of Fluoride in Dental Caries

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Health Canada classifies fluoride as “an element that has a beneficial effect on dental caries” (1). Fluoride is a mineral found in soil, water (both fresh and salt), air, foods, supplements, water, and dental products. Water fluoridation is the process of fortifying the natural fluoride content of public water supplies to a level that is known to improve dental health and prevent tooth decay (2) .The usual chemicals for fluoride are: hexafluorosilic acid, disodium hexafluorosilicate or sodium fluoride. Fluoride mostly enters the body via the gastrointestinal tract and is absorbed quickly in the stomach and acts primarily through its retention in dental plaque and saliva. The rate of fluoride absorption is directly related to the acidity of the stomachs contents (3), once fluoride is absorbed it reaches the plasma, it is then rapidly deposited in the skeleton or excreted through the kidneys.
Fluoride is used in dentistry two ways; the first, topical fluoride acts on the teeth already present and include toothpastes, rinses, gels, and varnishes. The second is systemic fluoride which is ingested into the body and becomes incorporated into forming structures through supplements and water fluoridation. Fluoride protects the tooth enamel against the acids that cause tooth decay. Fluoride has five principle mechanisms of action: inhibits demineralization, promotes remineralization of tooth enamel, inhibits bacterial metabolism or enzyme activity in dental plaque by reducing the ability of the plaque organism to produce acid, aids in post eruptive maturation of enamel, and reduces enamel solubility (1). The current understanding of these mechanisms of action indicates that fluorides major effect in the prevention of decay is thro...

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... Beltrán-Aguilar E, Donly K, Meyer D, et al. Topical fluoride for caries prevention: executive summary of the updated clinical recommendations and supporting systematic review. J Am Dent Assoc. 2013, Nov [cited 2014 March 28]; 144(11): 1279-1291 In: MEDLINE with Full Text [Internet]. Available from:
7. Harding M, O'Mullane D. Water fluoridation and oral health. Acta Med Acad. 2013 Nov [cited 2014 March 28]; 42(2): 131-139. In: MEDLINE with Full Text [Internet]. Available from: