Etymologically the word fluorine comes from Latin, fluo, and Means flow. Under this name, in the Middle Ages they named a mineral that helped the iron melt at a lower temperature and reduced the viscosity of the liquid metal to flow more easily through channels and moulds.
Today we know fluorine as a chemical element, a gas that forms part of the known periodic table, located in the halogen group, and which is classified as the most reactive of all its elements.
At this point in the explanation, you probably wonder:
how is it possible for us to brush our teeth with this? or why do dental toothpastes carry this element? Well, this type of products does not contain fluoride pure, but derived, such as sodium fluoride, fluoride, octoate or diisopropyl sodium, which added to the toothpaste, helps to remineralize the enamel, thereby reducing the occurrence of tooth decay.
Thus, the use of a certain amount of fluoride on a continuous basis, especially when carried out since childhood, protects both the teeth from milk and the final teeth against tooth decay because, in the case of children, it concentrates on the bones and the developing teeth and strengthens the enamel of these before they erupt. And, in the case of adults, it helps to harden the enamel of the parts already erupted.
The presence of fluoride on the dental surface reduces the solubility of the enamel, giving it greater hardness and making it more resistant to the action of acids and therefore to the production of dental caries. In addition, it has an effect on tooth decay forming bacteria by inhibiting their metabolism, adhesion and aggregation to the bacterial plate.
In very small doses, fluorides have the property of reducing the number of cavities by more than 50% and of limiting the severity of the tooth decay problem by a greater proportion.
The fluoride ion reacts rapidly with the calcium of the enamel, forming calcium fluoride, so the fluoride reacts with the hydroxyapatite crystals resulting in an increase of the resistance of the enamel.
In short, fluoride helps to remineralize the enamel that loses the tooth by favouring its resistance to the action of acids and thus preventing the appearance of cavities.
Where to find him?
As we told you before, fluoride is present in a large number of dental toothpastes, in most common use that are marketed. Another form of presentation is the specific gels that are applied directly to the teeth.
When the need for fluoride is greatest, specific treatments are done at the dentist’s office where fluoride is applied by a splint that is placed in the teeth for a few minutes.
But this mineral is also found naturally in various foods such as fish (salmon, sardines or Cod), seafood, meats (such as chicken), fruits and vegetables (e.g. oranges or onions), green vegetables (spinach or lettuce), gelatine and dairy. In addition, we can also find it in the running water that comes out of our taps, thanks to a process known as water fluoridation.