The major role that Fluoride plays in our body, is keeping the teeth and bones healthy. If until the age of 7, a child ingests enough fluoride, it alters the developing enamels structure to resist any acid attack on the teeth. It diminishes the production of acid by plaque bacteria. It prevents the loss of minerals from the teeth thus preventing tooth decay.
Fluoride is required in minimal amounts and it differs age-wise. Infants need a daily intake of 0.01 to 0.5 milligrams of Fluoride while children need to have 0.7 to 2 milligrams per day. Adults are required to consume 3 to 4 milligrams of Fluoride on a daily basis.
Our body mainly gets its Fluoride from the drinking water which is mostly fluoridated. As for the teeth, there is enough Fluoride in the toothpaste. Some other food sources of Fluoride are raw fruits, such as apple, avocado, banana, grapefruit, plums etc. and raw vegetables, such as carrots, celery, cucumber, radish, tomato etc. Eggs and milk also have some amount of Fluoride in them.
Infants get their Fluoride from breast milk or other milk derivatives.
The most common symptom of Fluoride deficiency is tooth decay because it weakens the tooth enamel. Due to the lack of Fluoride, a disease known as osteoporosis might also be caused where the bones weaken and often result in bone fractures.
Too much of Fluoride is toxic. It can cause dental fluorosis in children, where the teeth start to get yellow and brown stains. There will also be white streaks across the enamel of the teeth and the enamel might also become rough and pitted. Another side effect of excess consumption of Fluoride is skeletal fluorosis where the bones are hardened and become less elastic making them more susceptible to fracture.
The excess Fluoride in our body can also cause hyperthyroidism, where the body starts to secrete thyroid hormones in excess. This excess hormone depletes the calcium in the bone, weakening the bone and further leading to fractures.
Fluoride alters the structure of the enamel while a child is growing up. The changes prevent tooth decay by making it resistant to the acids produced by the bacteria in the mouth after combining with sugar. These acids can erode and damage our enamel and teeth. Fluoride is also capable of reducing the production of this acid and thus prevents any tooth decay that could occur.