How does fluoride strengthen tooth enamel?

Too much fluoride can damage tooth enamel

Fluoride protects the teeth against tooth decay, as has been proven many times. However, a new study reveals the risks of overdose.

That the dose makes the poison is a truism. It also seems to apply to the supply of fluoride to teeth. To a certain extent, fluoride strengthens the teeth's defenses against tooth decay, as numerous studies have proven beyond doubt. There is also no doubt that an overdose can result in damage - not just to the teeth.

For example, Canadian and US researchers last year came to the conclusion in two studies that high fluoride intake during pregnancy has a negative impact on IQ in adolescents and that too much fluoride can impair kidney and liver function in adolescents. For Germany, however, this was of little relevance, as the amount of fluoride absorbed (due to fluoridated drinking water) was far higher than that which is usual in this country.

Tooth enamel can also suffer from a fluoride overdose. Researchers at New York University College of Dentistry recently investigated how this works at the molecular level.

Disturbed calcium balance
In the journal "Science Signaling", the scientists report that too much fluoride upsets the calcium balance of melt-forming cells, so-called ameloblasts. As a result, less calcium is stored in them. In addition, the mitochondria, which to a certain extent “supply electricity” to the cells, do not function as usual. The disturbed calcium processing leads to a defective mineralization of the tooth enamel, which shows up externally in unsightly discoloration and white dots or lines - a phenomenon often observed in children.

Should it be better to keep the offspring away from fluoride and thus accept a higher risk of tooth decay? That would have overshot the mark. The average amount of fluoride consumed in Germany is in the harmless range. However, it is important to keep an eye on which sources (salt, toothpaste ...) supply fluoride and how much of it is consumed. If in doubt, the dentist will help.