Basic course on fluorosis and fluoride removal (part 1 of 4)
This part provides information about fluorosis, its harmful effects, types and source of fluorosis
19 May 2009

What is fluorosis?

Fluorosis is a pathological condition which results from an excessive intake of fluorine, usually from drinking water. There is no medical cure or treatment for fluorosis. Prevention is the only cure.

The intensity to which any disease can occur due to exposure to high levels of fluoride depends on the quantity of the fluoride in the body and this varies from person to person. A person's diet, general state of health as well as the body's ability to dispose of fluoride affects how the exposure to fluoride manifests itself.

Fluorosis also affects animals that drink the same water that causes fluorosis in humans. Cattle are the most susceptible, followed by sheep, horses, pigs, rabbits, rats and poultry.

It’s harmful effects
Fluorosis can lead to various abnormalities and complications in our body. High levels of fluoride in the body can result in severe tooth mottling or dental caries, embrittlement of bones, collapsed vertebrae, deformation of joints and general debility. All this can be ultimately fatal.

Dental fluorosis
Fluoride is known to cause dental fluorosis, a defect of the tooth enamel caused by fluoride's interference with developing teeth. Its visible signs are mottled or yellowed teeth. Nearly 30% of children drinking fluoridated water suffer from dental fluorosis on two or more teeth.

Skeletal fluorosis
Fluoride can cause a crippling bone disease called skeletal fluorosis. In more mild forms, symptoms of this disease include chronic joint pain, similar to the symptoms of arthritis.

Alzheimer's disease
Fluoride is associated with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Fluoride enters the brain and enables aluminum to cross the blood-brain barrier, resulting in increased risk for these diseases. Fluoride has also been associated with low IQ and mental retardation in children.

Source of fluorosis

Food and drinking water typically contain small amounts of fluorides. They occur in the environment both naturally and as a result of human activities. Fluoride can enter the body through various sources.

Drinking water & food
In drinking water, fluorides can be either naturally present due to the specific geological environment from which the water is obtained or can be artificially added for the prevention of dental caries.

Virtually all foodstuffs contain at least some traces of fluoride. Elevated levels are present in fish and in tea leaves, which are particularly rich in fluoride. The level of fluoride in foods is significantly affected by the fluoride content of the water used in food preparation or processing.

Dental products
Dental products such as toothpaste, mouthwash and fluoride supplements have been identified as significant sources of fluoride. Toothpastes for adults that are commercially available generally contain fluoride at concentrations ranging from 1000 to 1500 µg/g, whereas those designed for children contain 250 to 500 µg/g. The concentration of fluoride in mouth rinses varies with the recommended frequency of use from 230 to 1000 mg/litre.

Fluoride dust and fumes from industries using fluoride containing salt and/or hydrofluoric acid is also a source through which fluoride can enter the body.

To view the other parts of the course refer:

Basic course on fluorosis and fluoride removal (part 2 of 4)

Basic course on fluorosis and fluoride removal (part 3 of 4)

To view the multimedia course refer:

Basic course on fluorosis and fluoride removal (part 4 of 4)

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