Fluorine is the 9th atomic chemical element on the periodic table, it is a pale yellow gas which can be poisonous if consumed or inhaled, also causing severe burns when in contact with skin. An ion of fluorine is fluoride, an inorganic substance. Fluoride can be naturally found in soil, water, fruit and veg. This natural form of fluoride is found in your teeth, but it can also be man made for health purposes such as adding it to toothpaste and drinking water.
Fluoride is very beneficial to your diet, and most of all to your teeth. Teeth go through two processes daily, demineralisation and remineralisation, this is when minerals are being added and lost from your tooth's enamel layer. Demineralization is when minerals are taken and lost from the tooth when acids attack the enamel, these acids are usually formed from plaque, bacteria or sugars introduced into the mouth. Remineralization is when these minerals are added back into the tooth enamel through the food and water consumed, such minerals would include fluoride, calcium and phosphate. If the process of demineralization is faster or larger than the process of remineralization the outcome could lead to tooth decay. The Fluoride substance helps protect your teeth from tooth decay by making it more resistant to acids produced by bacteria and sugars. Fluoride has also been known to reverse early signs of tooth decay by speeding up remineralization and disrupting acid production. Fluoride is especially beneficial to children growing up as it can strengthen their teeth before they come through the gums, this is done by building fluoride into the tooth structure. Although bearing this in mind, too much intake of fluoride can leave a huge negative impact. If you exceed the daily amount of fluoride intake of between 0.7 ppm to 1.0 ppm (according to the NZ Ministry of Health), it could cause you to develop Dental Fluorosis. Fluorosis is a condition which affects the tooth's appearance; mild cases have creamy patches on the teeth and severe cases have stained teeth, surfacea and cavities.