Washington: The 50-year-old mystery as to how fluoride in drinking water, toothpastes, mouth rinses and other oral-care products prevent tooth decay may have finally been solved.

Karin Jacobs and colleagues explain that despite a half-century of scientific research, controversy still exists over exactly how fluoride compounds reduce the risk of tooth decay.

Research established long ago that fluoride helps to harden the enamel coating that protects teeth from the acid produced by decay-causing bacteria. Newer studies already found that fluoride penetrates and hardens a much thinner layer of enamel than previously believed, lending credence to other theories about how fluoride works.

The report describes new evidence that fluoride also works by impacting the adhesion force of bacteria that stick to the teeth and produce the acid that causes cavities. The experiments — performed on artificial teeth (hydroxyapatite pellets) to enable high-precision analysis techniques — revealed that fluoride reduces the ability of decay-causing bacteria to stick, so that, it is easier to wash away the bacteria by saliva, brushing and other activity.

The study has been published in the ACS journal Langumir.


Latest News from Lifestyle News Desk