A recent study that appeared in the journal Langmuir looked into the role of fluoride and their protection on teeth. The researchers who published the journal article found the protective shield fluoride forms on teeth is up to 100 times thinner than what was previously thought.
It is well known that fluoride is found in toothpaste, mouthwash, and public drinking water in many areas in the world. The use of fluoride of course is to help prevent tooth decay which causes cavities to form.
Researchers found the fluorapatite layer created by fluoride on the hard white substance covering teeth’s surface called enamel is only 6 nanometers thick. This layer is very small and over 10 times thinner than what was indicated in any prior studies. Hence the researchers raise questions about how a layer so thin can protect teeth from decay. Hence it is possible that fluoride may have another unrecognized effect on tooth enamel.
It is worthy for researchers to explore how fluoride protects teeth from cavities as there is some controversy surrounding the fluoridation of drinking water. Previously I have discussed how large amounts of fluoride consumed can lead to fluorosis in young children.
Source: Frank Müller, Christian Zeitz, Hubert Mantz, Karl-Heinz Ehses, Flavio Soldera, Jörg Schmauch, Matthias Hannig, Stefan Hüfner, Karin Jacobs. Elemental Depth Profiling of Fluoridated Hydroxyapatite: Saving Your Dentition by the Skin of Your Teeth? Langmuir, 2010; 26 (24): 18750