Originally posted on https://jakefood.com/2018/fluoride/.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the young dentist Frederick McKay opened his first dental practice in Colorado Springs. He discovered that many locals had terrible brown stains on their teeth. The cause of the stains remained unknown for another 30 years until McKay and his colleagues found out that fluoride had a role to play in tooth decay. Lucky for you, it will take you only five minutes to find out everything you need to know about fluoride.
What is fluoride?
Technically, fluoride is not an essential nutrient, because it’s not involved in vital bodily functions and there are no known signs of fluoride deficiency. That being said, a small amount of fluoride can be beneficial for dental health.
As an average adult, you have about 2.6 grams of fluoride in your body, most of which is in your bones and teeth.
Around 80% of the fluoride you ingest is excreted via the kidneys or with your sweat.
Function of fluoride in your body
Fluoride partners with other minerals in your body to prevent tooth decay.
To understand how fluoride works, imagine a tooth. Its surface, or enamel, is primarily made up of hydroxyapatite crystals. These crystals contain minerals like calcium and phosphorus. Every time you eat, bacteria in your mouth turn sugars from your food into acids. These acids break down the hydroxyapatite crystals, leading to loss of minerals from your teeth. This process is called demineralisation. If left unchecked, demineralisation would eventually cause caries. Thankfully, there’s also a process that counterbalances tooth demineralisation and is conveniently called ‘remineralisation’. Remineralisation is the process of replenishing the minerals in your enamel.