Fluoride in the body

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 20.11.2021

All iLive content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies. Note that the numbers in parentheses ([1], [2], etc.) are clickable links to these studies.

If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please select it and press Ctrl + Enter.

Fluoride is the 17th element of the table of chemical elements. Its name comes from the Latin word "fluorescence" - the stream. Fluoride in its natural state is found in many sources - in water, food, soil and several minerals, such as fluorite and fluorapatite. But it can also be synthesized in a laboratory where fluoride is added to drinking water and used in various chemical products. When is fluoride useful for the body, and when it becomes harmful? 

How useful is fluoride?

From what increases the amount of fluoride

The concentration of fluorine in our food products significantly increases with the addition of superphosphate in the soil - a fertilizer that contains significant concentrations of fluorine (1-3%). A recent study shows that because of the use of a large number of phosphorus fertilizers, plants absorb an excessive amount of fluoride.

The level of fluoride content in food depends on the content of fluorine, obtained from water, which is used in soil preparation or processing.

The concentration of fluorine in unwashed or unprocessed products grown in the vicinity of industrial sources (emissions) may be greater than in the same products grown in ecologically clean areas. Therefore, when buying products, pay attention to their labeling. Now there are special stores of eco-products that are more useful for health than products of unknown origin.

Who needs fluoride?

Many doctors recommend to both children and adults a certain level of fluoride. Children should receive fluoride to protect their teeth during their formation. Adults need fluoride to protect their teeth from tooth decay.

Fluoride treatment is necessary for people under such circumstances

  1. Caries
  2. Absence or limited access to dentists
  3. Poor hygiene of the oral cavity
  4. A diet high in sugar or carbohydrates
  5. Smoking
  6. Alcohol abuse
  7. Braces, crowns, bridges and other objects of restoration of teeth
  8. Lack of saliva or dry mouth

trusted-source[1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7]

Sources of fluoride in the body

Fluoride can enter the body with food. If you eat foods that contain fluoride (such as meat, fish, eggs, tea and leaves of green salad), then fluoride enters the bloodstream, then it is absorbed by teeth and bones.

Most people have the opportunity to fortify tooth enamel with fluoride - with the help of treated drinking water or hygienic products, such as toothpaste and mouthwash.

Fluorine can also be applied directly to the teeth in the dental office. Teeth absorb fluoride well and remain in the mouth for several hours.

Assimilation of fluoride by the body

Getting into the human body, fluoride penetrates into the general bloodstream and is retained mainly in the stomach and intestines. Its assimilation depends on the solubility in water and the dose of consumption. Soluble fluorides are almost completely absorbed by the walls of the gastrointestinal tract, but the degree of fluoride absorption can reduce elements such as aluminum, phosphorus, magnesium or calcium. Fluorine can be absorbed partially or completely from the respiratory tract as a gas or in a solid form (eg, toothpaste).

Fluoride rapidly spreads from the tissues through the systemic bloodstream to the extracellular fluid, but in humans and laboratory animals about 99% of fluoride accumulates in the bones and teeth.

In a pregnant woman, fluoride penetrates the placenta and is transmitted from mother to fetus.

The concentration of fluoride in the bones depends on the age, sex and condition of the bones.

His assimilation is also due to the effectiveness of the kidneys that produce fluoride.

Fluoride is excreted from the body mainly with urine. In children, about 80-90% of the fluoride dose is stored, and in adults this figure is about 60%.

trusted-source[8], [9], [10], [11]

The daily dose of fluoride

It is from 1.5 to 2 mg per day

How useful is fluoride?

Fluoride protects teeth from caries and their enamel - from damage. When bacteria in the oral cavity interact with sugars, an acid is produced that can destroy the tooth enamel and damage the teeth. This process is called demineralization. When the teeth are already damaged by acid, fluoride accumulates in the demineralized areas and the process of enamel repair begins - a process called remineralization. Fluoride is very useful for preventing tooth decay and strengthening the teeth, but its effectiveness is much weaker if the tooth cavity is already destroyed.

Why is the impact of fluorine so controversial?

Although scientific research confirms the benefits of fluoride in the prevention of tooth decay, scientists doubt its safety. The growth of the fluorosis of teeth due to the increased concentration of fluorine in water exceeding the optimal level requires the immediate cessation of the intake of fluoridated drinking water. Some scientists generally consider the treatment with fluoride unnecessary.

The addition of fluoride to drinking water was originally practiced in 1940 to prevent tooth decay. Studies have already shown that fluoride causes fluorosis of teeth in 10% of the population.

Scientific studies have also revealed the association of fluoride with an increased risk of cancers (especially bone cancer), as well as gene mutations and reproductive neurotoxic problems (eg, hyper-depression). In 1999, the headquarters of the Union of Scientists EPA took a position against the fluoridation of drinking water.

According to the Union of Scientists EPA, fluoride is used for fluoridation of water as an "unauthorized drug". For proper use of this drug, you need to understand how optimal its doses are. Since fluoride already exists in many foods and drinks, scientists estimate that the total consumption of daily doses of fluoride as a drug may be excessive. Studies show that, according to the American Dental Association, artificial fluoridation is not necessary for a person, since with food and tooth cleaning we already get 300% or more of the recommended daily dose of fluoride.

Excess of fluoride

Proper use of fluorides is considered a safe and effective means to prevent caries. However, a high level of fluoride, affecting the teeth for a long time, can cause harm to a person. For example, at too high doses of fluoride, fluorosis of the teeth can occur - a change in the color of the enamel, brittleness and chipping.

The more extreme, toxic effects of fluoride can even lead to death if a person consumes too much of this element. An overdose of fluoride is possible, for example, if a small child eats the whole pack of toothpaste. And then there are the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting with blood, diarrhea, abdominal pain, salivation, lacrimation, general weakness, shallow breathing, increased fatigue, convulsions.

In addition, exposure to high concentrations of fluoride leads to a weakening of the bones and the fluorosis of the skeleton (joint stiffness and pain in them). In high doses, fluoride disrupts the synthesis of collagen and leads to the destruction of collagen in bones, tendons, muscles, skin, cartilage, lungs, kidneys and trachea, and leads to early wrinkles on the skin

At elevated doses, fluoride disrupts the immune system and forces it to attack its own tissues, and also increases the growth rate of tumors with a tendency to cancer.

With a wide range of chronic diseases, fluoride can cause allergic reactions, including dermatitis, eczema and urticaria. Fluorine in large quantities causes birth defects and genetic disorders. Fluorine can aggravate the course of kidney disease, diabetes and hypothyroidism.

trusted-source[12], [13], [14], [15], [16], [17]

How much fluoride is in the toothpaste?

Toothpastes and gels for adults generally contain fluoride at a concentration of 1000 to 1500 μg / g, and hygienic pastes and gels for children contain a lower level of fluoride, from 250 to 500 μg / g.

Mouth rinses for daily home use usually contain between 230 and 500 mg of fluoride / l, and mouthwash of weekly use or use once every two weeks can contain even more fluoride - from 900-1000 mg / l. All these are powerful sources of fluorides.

Translation Disclaimer: The original language of this article is Russian. For the convenience of users of the iLive portal who do not speak Russian, this article has been translated into the current language, but has not yet been verified by a native speaker who has the necessary qualifications for this. In this regard, we warn you that the translation of this article may be incorrect, may contain lexical, syntactic and grammatical errors.

You are reporting a typo in the following text:
Simply click the "Send typo report" button to complete the report. You can also include a comment.