Fluoride refers to a derivative or reduced form of the element fluorine. Fluorine exists in the earth’s crust, rocks, clay and coal. Plants, air, fresh water and ocean water containfluorine. In the United States, bodies of water have fluorine ranges from 0.1 to 12 parts per (ppm). Public health officials have added fluoride to municipal water supplies since the 1940s.
Many researchers promote the benefits of fluoride, especially in children’s formative years, for the development of strong bones and teeth. On the other end of the scale, excessive fluorine intake may cause dental fluorosis, which is pitted teeth and decay. “If it is absorbed too frequently, it can cause tooth decay, osteoporosis, and damage to kidneys, bones, nerves, and muscles (1, 2, 9).”
Many studies point to the effectiveness of fluoride for maintaining healthy bone strength and teeth. Often, water fluoridation receives credit as the single most important factor, accounting for the 40 to 70 percent reduction in tooth decay among Americans (1, 2).
The History of Fluorine
Fluorine in mining. Fluorite or fluorspar contains fluoride in its natural form. Generally, fluoride compounds derive from fluorspar. Structurally, fluorine has the most stable structure of all the chemical compounds. German miners used fluorspar as a flux or solvent in ore smelting mining. The compound enables miners to use less heat to melt the ore.