Fluoride in the body: what it is, harmfulness, properties, what it is in

Fluoride is an essential mineral for the proper functioning of the body. How does it work and is it harmful? Check!

Ludwig Jelonek - AuthorAuthorLudwig Jelonek
Ludwig Jelonek - Author
AuthorLudwig Jelonek
Natu.Care Editor

Ludwik Jelonek is the author of more than 2,500 texts published on leading portals. His content has found its way into services such as Ostrovit and Kobieta Onet. At Natu.Care, Ludwik educates people in the most important area of life - health.

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Ilona Bush - Reviewed byReviewed byIlona Bush
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Ilona Bush - Reviewed by
Reviewed byIlona Bush
Master of Pharmacy

Ilona Krzak obtained her Master of Pharmacy degree from the Medical University of Wrocław. She did her internship in a hospital pharmacy and in the pharmaceutical industry. She is currently working in the profession and also runs an educational profile on Instagram: @pani_z_apteki

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Bartholomew Turczynski - Edited by
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Fluoride in the body: what it is, harmfulness, properties, what it is in
29 April, 2024
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Remember fluoridation in primary school? That specific aftertaste was actually fluoride. It used to be that almost all pupils ran around the corridor with foam in their mouths, and today the trend seems to be the opposite - fluoride is considered harmful by many people.

Contrary to appearances, an adequate amount of it is important for health. Therefore, together with Ilona Krzak, M.Sc. in Pharmacy, we will explain how fluoride works, when it is dangerous and how to use it.

The following is an overview of how fluoride works.

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From this article you will learn:

  • What is fluoride and what symbol it has.
  • What is fluoride?
  • Whether fluoride is harmful and how it works.
  • .
  • What are the symptoms of fluoride deficiency and excess.
  • What are the symptoms of fluoride deficiency and excess.

What is fluoride?

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Fluoride is a mineral that plays key roles in the body. It is essential for the proper development and maintenance of tooth and bone health. Nevertheless, an excess of it can be harmful. Too much of this mineral causes discolouration and cracks on the enamel of the teeth. Therefore, moderation and proper portioning is importantand.

What symbol does fluoride have?

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Fluorine, a chemical element with an atomic number of 9, is represented in the periodic table by the symbol "F". This compound - due to its chemical properties - is used extensively in, among other things, dentistry and various industries, such as nuclear, metallurgical or chemicaland.

Is fluoride harmful?

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Fluoride, like many other substances, can be harmful to health if consumed in excessive amounts. Too much exposure to fluoride, especially during tooth development in children, can lead to fluorosis. This is a condition that causes discolouration and cracks on the surface of teeth, potentially affecting the appearance and health of the mouthand.

The effects of high doses of fluoride can also include bone weakness and problems with the skin, as well as the digestive and nervous systems. Furthermore, prolonged exposure to high concentrations of fluoride can lead to serious health problems, including poisoning and deathand.

Remember, however, that common sources of fluoride, such as toothpaste and tap water, usually contain the mineral in safe amounts for the body.

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When fluoride is consumed excessively, pathological changes in ameloblasts occur during enamel development, resulting in difficulties in the formation of normal enamel.
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Ilona Krzak.

Ilona Krzak Master of Pharmacy

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Fluorine - properties and functions in the body

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Fluorine is an element that is very important for human health. It is crucial for the condition of teeth and bones. It exhibits unique properties that affect various functions in the body. What aspects does it particularly affect?

Tooth health

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Fluoride has a significant impact on dental health. First and foremost, it affects the enamel, promoting its resistance to decay-causing bacteria. Fluoride, or more specifically, its ions, are part of the tooth enamel, so adequate levels of fluoride affect the condition of teethand.

Regular use of fluoride contributes to the remineralisation process, reversing the early stages of decay and helping to maintain dental health.

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On the other hand, however, an excess of this element can lead to a condition called fluorosis. This is characterised by the formation of stains, discolouration or cracks on the surface of the enamel, which can be aesthetically unpleasant and potentially damaging to dental health. 

The condition is also known as fluorosis.

It is therefore all about balance - the right amount of fluoride in the diet is crucial for dental health.

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Fluoride is a trace element essential for metabolism and can penetrate all tissues. It accumulates in the human body, but is mainly deposited in teeth and bones.
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Ilona Krzak.

Ilona Krzak Master of Pharmacy

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Bone condition

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Fluoride also has a significant impact on bone health. Similar to tooth enamel, fluoride can absorb into bone structure, replacing some hydroxyl ions and forming compounds that can increase bone density. In this way, they improve both bone strength and potentially counteract diseases such as osteoporosisand.

Similar to teeth, however, overexposure to fluoride leads to the formation of new bone tissue too quickly. This can lead to bones that are denser but also brittle and prone to fracture. Therefore, a balance in fluoride intake is crucial for bone health.

Regulation of metabolism

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Fluoride may affect the regulation of metabolism in the body. Some evidence suggests that it supports the action of certain enzymes that are key to metabolic processes such as digestion and nutrient utilisationand.

This interaction is important because proteins control most of the biochemical processes in cells, influencing the rate of metabolism.

Tooth fluoride

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Tooth fluoride is most commonly found in products such as toothpastes, mouthwashes and special gels used in professional dental prevention. It is also found in some drinking water sources - either naturally or added artificially to improve dental healthand.

During daily use, fluoride toothpaste should be used washing at least twice a day. Rinsing with fluoride mouthwash is an additional way to provide your teeth with this compound. It is important not to swallow fluoride-containing products as they can be harmful to healthand.

For children, use toothpaste with less fluoride (as recommended by your dentist), as little ones may mistakenly swallow toothpaste. And excess fluoride in children can lead to fluorosis.

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Is fluoride in toothpaste harmful?

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Fluoride in toothpaste is not harmful as long as it is used correctly. It is an important mineral that helps protect teeth from decay by strengthening the enamel. However, problems can occur if fluoride is consumed in large amounts, especially by young children who may tend to swallow toothpaste. 

Excessive amounts of this mineral can lead to fluorosis, which is characterised by discolouration and possible weakening of the teeth. Therefore, use toothpaste carefully.

Fluoride deficiency

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Fluoride deficiency is a rare condition that can lead to an increased risk of tooth decay and a weakened skeletal system.

The causes of fluoride deficiency can vary, but are most commonly due to insufficient intake of the mineral. The reason may be its low content in the diet, for example by consuming water that does not naturally contain fluoride, or avoiding fluoridated products such as fluoride toothpaste. Other causes may include diseases that affect the body's ability to absorb this mineral, but these are rareand.

Symptoms of fluoride deficiency :

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  • Increased risk of tooth decay.
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  • Tooth pain.
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  • Changes in the structure of the teeth.
  • Changes in the structure of the teeth.
  • Bone fracture.
  • Bone fracture.

Completing fluoride deficiency is based mainly on including products and drinks containing this mineral in the diet. Toothpaste and mouthwash with fluoride can also be used. 

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In cases of particularly low fluoride levels, dedicated prescription preparations may be used. And in extreme cases, it is not uncommon for specialist dental procedures to be needed. 

Always, however, before starting fluoride supplementation, it is a good idea to consult your doctor or dentist to avoid excess levels of this element, which can also be harmful.

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In the case of fluoride, we are not talking about recommended daily intakes, but permissible daily portions.
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Ilona Krzak.

Ilona Krzak Master of Pharmacy

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Fluoride excess

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Fluoride excess occurs due to chronic consumption of excessive amounts of this mineral. Although fluoride is beneficial to dental health, an overdose can lead to a number of health problemsand.

Products such as fluoride toothpaste, mouthwashes, fluoride supplements or drinking water and foods containing high concentrations of this mineral can be the cause of excess.

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In young children in particular, who tend to swallow toothpaste during brushing, there is a risk of excess fluoride. Therefore, it is important to control the amount of toothpaste used and educate little ones not to swallow it.

Today's toothpaste is a good example of this.

Symptoms of excess fluorideand:

  • Pigmentation, white spots or striations on teeth.
  • .
  • Pain and stiffness in the joints.
  • Pain and stiffness in the joints.
  • Dermal rashes.
  • Dermatitis.
  • Cracking on the surface of the teeth.
  • Cracking on the surface of the teeth.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Pain and stiffness in the joints.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Nause of nausea.
  • .

How to remove fluoride from the body?

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The treatment of excess fluoride depends on the severity. In mild cases, minimising fluoride exposure is usually sufficient, often by changing the source of drinking water or oral hygiene products. In some cases, however, dental procedures may be neededand.

An excess of fluoride may also require treatment to address symptoms resulting from exposure to the mineral, such as bone and joint problems. In severe cases, medical and dietary support may be required to remove as much fluoride from the body as possible and alleviate symptoms.

Medical and dietary support may also be required to address symptoms.

Whatever the level of fluoride exposure, those with concerns about its effects should consult a doctor or dentist to discuss optimal treatment strategies.

Where does fluoride occur?

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Fluoride is present in both food and water because it is a natural mineral. Certain types of fish and seafood, such as shrimp and cod, contain higher levels of fluoride. Other foods that contain fluoride include green tea, wine, peas, potatoes and some varieties of riceand.

Additionally, fluoride is often added to drinking water as part of a public initiative known as water fluoridation, which aims to promote oral health. It is also added to certain grades of table salt and toothpaste.

Fluoride - uses

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Fluorine is a chemical element with multiple uses, both in technology and medicine. Its amazing properties make it integral to many processes and productsand.

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  • Tooth protection. Fluoride is found in many toothpastes and mouthwashes. It has a prophylactic effect against tooth decay by remineralising enamel, which helps to strengthen teeth and prevent decay.
  • Production of Teflon. Fluoride is a key ingredient in the production of Teflon, a highly heat-resistant material used in cooking utensils, among other things.
  • Fluoridation of water. Fluoride is often added to drinking water as a caries preventative, especially where access to dental care is limited.
  • Medicine. Fluoride compounds are used in selected medicines, such as in the treatment of osteoporosis, due to fluoride's ability to stimulate the promotion of new bone formation.
  • .
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Fluoride contamination of drinking water is becoming increasingly common worldwide.
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Ilona Krzak.

Ilona Krzak Master of Pharmacy

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Summary

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  • Fluoride is a key mineral for the health and development of teeth and bones.
  • Overexposure to fluoride can lead to fluorosis, weakened bones, skin problems, and gastrointestinal and nervous system problems.
  • .
  • Fluoride has a significant effect on dental health, supporting enamel and reversing the early stages of decay.
  • Fluoride is used in oral hygiene products such as toothpastes, mouthwashes and special dental gels.
  • .
  • Excessive amounts of fluoride in toothpaste can be harmful, especially to young children.
  • .
  • Fluoride deficiency, although rare, can lead to a greater risk of tooth decay and a weakened skeletal system.
  • Fluoride occurs naturally in food and water; it is also added to drinking water, salt and toothpaste.
  • .
  • Fluorine has many uses, from protecting teeth to producing Teflon to treating osteoporosis.

FAQ

. Does fluoride only occur in oral hygiene products?.

No, fluoride occurs naturally in many products. It is present in certain types of fish and seafood, such as shrimp and cod. We can also find it in green tea, wine, peas, potatoes and rice varieties. Furthermore, fluoride is often added to drinking water and some types of table salt as an element to improve oral hygiene.

. Is fluoride harmful when used in the right doses?.

Fluoride in the right doses is very beneficial to our health, especially the condition of our teeth. It prevents tooth decay, strengthens enamel and helps remineralise teeth. It is also beneficial for bone health. Only an excess or a deficiency of fluoride can become a problem, so it is worth paying attention to the correct doses of this element in the daily diet.

. Should overweight people consider fluoride intake?.

Fluoride is a mineral that is beneficial for all, regardless of body weight. It can affect metabolic processes in the body, as it supports certain enzymes that are crucial for digestion and nutrient utilisation. Therefore, people who are overweight should also take care to get the right amount of fluoride in their diet.

. Can fluoride affect skin quality?.

Fluoride prioritises dental and bone health. Its effect on skin quality is not direct and has not been fully investigated. However, too much fluoride in the diet can introduce toxins into the body, which can have a negative impact on skin health.

. Are fluoride-containing products safe for children?.

Yes, they are safe, but moderation should be kept in mind. Children should use toothpaste with less fluoride (as recommended by their dentist) as they may mistakenly ingest it. Excess fluoride in children can lead to fluorosis, which is discolouration and cracks in the enamel of the teeth.

. Is fluoride only used in medicine?.

Fluoride is not only used in medicine. Although it is a key ingredient in many oral care products, it also has many uses outside medicine. Fluoride is used in the production of Teflon, a material used in cookware. It is also an ingredient in some types of medicines, for example in the treatment of osteoporosis.

. Is fluoride essential for the proper functioning of the body?.

Yes, fluoride helps maintain the health of our teeth and bones. By being absorbed into the structure of teeth and bones, it strengthens them and increases their density. Fluoride is also involved in the regulation of certain metabolic processes, supporting the action of various enzymes. It is therefore very important for the proper functioning of our body.

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Sources

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. See all.

Aoun, A., Darwiche, F., Al Hayek, S., & Doumit, J. (2018). The Fluoride Debate: The Pros and Cons of Fluoridation. Preventive Nutrition and Food Science23(3), 171-180. https://doi.org/10.3746/pnf.2018.23.3.171

Guth, S., Hüser, S., Roth, A., Degen, G., Diel, P., Edlund, K., Eisenbrand, G., Engel, K.-H., Epe, B., Grune, T., Heinz, V., Henle, T., Humpf, H.-U., Jäger, H., Joost, H.-G., Kulling, S. E., Lampen, A., Mally, A., Marchan, R., ... Hengstler, J. G. (2020). Toxicity of fluoride: Critical evaluation of evidence for human developmental neurotoxicity in epidemiological studies, animal experiments and in vitro analyses. Archives of Toxicology94(5), 1375-1415. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00204-020-02725-2

Jha, S. K., Mishra, V. K., Sharma, D. K., & Damodaran, T. (2011). Fluoride in the environment and its metabolism in humans. Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology211, 121-142. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-8011-3_4

Kanduti, D., Sterbenk, P., & Artnik, B. (2016). FLUORIDE: A REVIEW OF USE AND EFFECTS ON HEALTH. Materia Socio-Medica28(2), 133-137. https://doi.org/10.5455/msm.2016.28.133-137

Kono, K. (1994). [Health effects of fluorine and its compounds]. Nihon Eiseigaku Zasshi. Japanese Journal of Hygiene49(5), 852-860. https://doi.org/10.1265/jjh.49.852

Machoy-Mokrzynska, A. (2004). [Fluorine as a factor in premature aging]. Annales Academiae Medicae Stetinensis50 Suppl 1, 9-13.

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Prystupa, J. (2011). Fluorine-A current literature review. An NRC and ATSDR-based review of safety standards for exposure to fluorine and fluorides. Toxicology Mechanisms and Methods21(2), 103-170. https://doi.org/10.3109/15376516.2010.542931

Solanki, Y. S., Agarwal, M., Gupta, A. B., Gupta, S., & Shukla, P. (2022). Fluoride occurrences, health problems, detection, and remediation methods for drinking water: A comprehensive review. The Science of the Total Environment807(Pt 1), 150601. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.150601

Swallow, S. (2015). Fluorine in medicinal chemistry. Progress in Medicinal Chemistry54, 65-133. https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.pmch.2014.11.001

Zuo, H., Chen, L., Kong, M., Qiu, L., Lü, P., Wu, P., Yang, Y., & Chen, K. (2018). Toxic effects of fluoride on organisms. Life Sciences198, 18-24. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lfs.2018.02.001

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Meet the team
Ludwig Jelonek - Author

Natu.Care Editor

Ludwik Jelonek is the author of more than 2,500 texts published on leading portals. His content has found its way into services such as Ostrovit and Kobieta Onet. At Natu.Care, Ludwik educates people in the most important area of life - health.

Ilona Bush - Reviewed by

Master of Pharmacy

Verified by an expert

Ilona Krzak obtained her Master of Pharmacy degree from the Medical University of Wrocław. She did her internship in a hospital pharmacy and in the pharmaceutical industry. She is currently working in the profession and also runs an educational profile on Instagram: @pani_z_apteki

Bartholomew Turczynski - Edited by

Editor-in-Chief

Bartłomiej Turczyński is the editor-in-chief of Natu.Care. He is responsible for the quality of the content created on Natu.Care, among others, and ensures that all articles are based on sound scientific research and consulted with industry specialists.

Nina Wawryszuk - Fact-checking

Natu.Care Editor

Nina Wawryszuk specialises in sports supplementation, strength training and psychosomatics. On a daily basis, in addition to writing articles for Natu.Care, as a personal trainer she helps athletes improve their performance through training, diet and supplementation.

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