DutchEnglishItalianPortugueseGermanFrenchPersianRussianSerbianBulgarianChinese (Simplified)CzechDanishFinnishArabicPolishRomanianSlovakSpanishSlovenianArmenianEstonianIrishKoreanNorwegianVietnameseZulu

Oral Bacteria Can Resist Fluoride

A majority of dental health experts have proclaimed fluoride to be the wonder drug of the 20th century. Early discoveries surrounding the naturally occurring substance found that it efficiently provided protection against tooth decay, cavities and gum disease as fluoride is effective in killing the oral bacteria known for causing those dental problems. New research has shown that things may be changing as Yale researchers have discovered that oral bacteria have the ability to fight back against the dental health benefits associated with the element.

A health human mouth can have up to 1,000 species of oral bacteria, the organisms are an essential part of the body’s self-regulating system. When the levels of oral bacteria are in check, the critters will help aid in the digestion and mastication process by working to eliminated trace elements of food and sugars deposited on teeth after dining. However, when there is too much activity, oral bacteria will bond together to form dental plaque the sticky film primarily responsible for causing dental problems such as bad breath and missing teeth courtesy of the tooth-eroding acid that is naturally released as a byproduct. For decades, fluoride was the primary weapon used to combat the imbalance, but new research has shown that the chemical may no longer be as effective as the oral bacteria are starting to fight back.

Fluoride Activates Riboswitches

Researchers at Connecticut based Yale University have made the discovery that oral bacteria have the ability to fight back and resist fluoride. Each living cell contains Ribonucleic acid (RNA), an acid that is responsible for delivering instructions provided by Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Scientists have found that portions of the RNA messages (called riboswitches) that control gene communication can detect fluoride build-up and can stimulate oral bacteria as a result and negate the health benefits associated with fluoride.

The findings from Yale’s research team have showed how microbes can overcome fluoride toxicity, however the study does not address how humans process excess fluoride as a whole.

Fluoride Sources

In America, fluoridation of public water has been the norm for around 65 years and has been considered “…one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century” (http://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/). The right fluoride levels has been scientifically proven to fight tooth decay and guard against cavities and in addition to public water, fluoride is a common dental treatment and is an additive in dozens of dental care products including toothpastes and mouthwashes. Because the compound is so readily accessible to consumers, the Department of Health and Human Services and Environmental Protection Agency has recommended reducing the quantity added to water.

The government agencies now support capping fluoride 0.7 milligrams per liter of water, lower from the current range is 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter. The current level is based on the recommendation established by the U.S. Public Health Service in 1962. However, since water is no longer the main source for fluoride, adjustments to the level have been deemed necessary in order to balance with all the fluoride sources used on a daily basis.

Fluoride, Too Much is No Good

Although fluoride has been scientifically proven to boostoral hygiene, there are risks involved in addition to the recent Yale discovers. Ingesting too much fluoride may result in the odds of children developing dental fluorosis. Studies have indicated that currently 2 out of 5 adolescents have tooth streaking, spottiness and in some cases, pitted teeth courtesy of excess fluoride consumption (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/01/fluoride-drinking-water-regulations.html).

Plus, the Environmental Protection Agency (the organization in charge of establishing a water fluoridation standard that is both legal and can be administered) has noted that too much fluoride may result in “…risk of brittle bones, fractures and crippling bone abnormalities,” (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/01/fluoride-drinking-water-regulations.html).

Individuals interested in fluoride and all the news surrounding the compound can get the best information on the subject by speaking directly with a dentist. Patients should compose a list of their fluoride sources by investigating if their community follows a plan of water fluoridation and by providing a list of potential sources of the stuff including tap water (used in beverages like coffee, tea, and dental care products such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, etc) and diet. A dentist will be able to help properly determine potential levels of fluoride consumed and will adjust their dental treatments accordingly.

Additionally, a dentist will be instrumental in developing a cosmetic dentistry strategy for individuals already impacted by dental fluorosis.

Scroll to Top