Flourine vs Flouride: Are There Differences? (2023)

Chemistry is a bit of a complicated topic. One small little difference or combination of elements can completely change a substance as we know it. Hydrogen and oxygen combine in a violent explosion to make something as innocent as water. Lithium is a metal used to create things like batteries, but it’s also used as a stabilizing medication for people with bipolar disorder.

Fluorine, number 9 on the periodic table, has a lot of uses. Some of them are polarizing. This highly reactive halogen was used to enrich uranium during the Manhattan Project. It’s also used to enrich your teeth in toothpaste.

Understanding the difference between fluorine and fluoride can help you reach a conclusion about whether or not you’re comfortable using a fluoride toothpaste, and can be the spark to help you find a better ingredient for oral care.

What is Fluorine?

Fluorine in its base state is an extremely toxic halogen gas. Fluorine occurs naturally in the mineral fluorite, which is the 13th most abundant mineral on the planet earth. It is an electronegative chemical element that is used to create a variety of products, medications, and weapons.

What is Fluorine Used For?

Isolating fluorine from fluorite is extremely dangerous. Early scientists who made the attempt were often significantly injured or even killed in the process, as fluorine in its base state is wildly reactive.

It wasn’t until the late 1800’s that a safe extraction method was discovered. Given the volatile nature of fluorine, extracted fluorine was predominantly used to enrich uranium for highly destructive nuclear weapons during World War II.

Derivatives of fluorine are used in about 20% of all modern medications. Fluorine’s reactive nature is often relied upon to strengthen the effects of broad spectrum antibiotics, cholesterol-lowering drugs, certain kinds of antidepressants, and some anesthetics.

(Video) #8 - Fluorine vs Fluoride - #ElementADayInMay

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a negatively charged fluorine ion. Any product containing these negatively charged ions is referred to as “fluoridated.” Fluoridation doesn’t mean that something is infused with pure fluorine gas -- just the negatively charged ions.

What is Fluoride Used For?

Fluoride is often added to the American public water supply in cities and suburbs, and virtually every toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association. Research has shown that the addition of these negatively charged fluorine ions can help to prevent tooth decay by encouraging remineralization.

Fluoride reacts with the minerals present in our saliva (like calcium and phosphorus) and encourages them to bond to the enamel of the teeth. This creates a protective layer that delays tooth decay, helping to prevent cavities.

Is Fluorine Safe?

Fluorine in its pure form is absolutely and unequivocally unsafe. Its highly toxic and volatile nature is notorious for causing severe injury to death to people who come in contact with it. That’s why pure fluorine is only extracted and used to create weapons of mass destruction.

It’s important to consider that while pure fluorine is extremely dangerous, chemistry is a complex and fascinating thing. The aforementioned violent explosion that creates water and the dual purpose of lithium in batteries and psychiatric medications goes to demonstrate that elements can be processed in different ways with different results.

Is Fluoride Safe?

Fluoride’s safety is a somewhat controversial subject. While it is derived from a highly dangerous element, it does not contain the toxic gas used to enrich uranium. It’s merely negatively charged ions from the chemical element.

Fluoride has been studied by dentists and deemed safe to fortify teeth. Small amounts of fluoride are added to the public water supply and toothpaste to help strengthen teeth. Dentists sometimes prescribe higher concentrations of fluoride in the form of medicated mouthwashes to help people with structurally weak teeth.

(Video) Fluor and fluoride

There are risks associated with excessive fluoride consumption. The most severe side effect is a condition called skeletal fluorosis. Since fluoride is one of the most common substances, it’s naturally found in large amounts in rocks and dirt.

In countries where people heavily depend on groundwater for washing, cooking, and drinking, they’re usually ingesting high amounts of naturally present fluoride if they live in an area where it is heavily naturally present in the water, such as near the bases of mountains. Since fluoride is a non-necessary additive, the body doesn’t know how to use it. It isn’t like calcium, proteins, or vitamins. The body doesn’t have a need for it and it cannot properly remove large amounts from the system.

This leads to a mass accumulation of fluoride on the only surface it can stick to: the bones. Skeletal fluorosis is a condition that occurs when heavy deposits of fluoride build up in the bones, stiffening tendons and reducing range of motion. This condition is painful and incurable. People with skeletal fluorosis often depend on canes or other walking aids, as their legs no longer bend normally when they walk.

The lesser side effect is a condition called dental fluorosis, where fluoride accumulates on the adult teeth. Children who consume excessive amounts of fluoride before they’ve lost all of their baby teeth may find that when their adult teeth emerge, they’re a goldenrod shade and the surfaces are covered in irregular whitw markings or grooves. This is the result of excess fluoride attaching itself onto the teeth while they’re still developing within the gums.

Cosmetic treatments can be used to improve the appearance of dental fluorosis. While the condition itself may be unsightly, it isn’t inherently harmful. Most people with dental fluorosis are able to safely keep all of their adult teeth without an urgent need for extraction.

Preventing the Negative Side Effects of Fluoride

Most people in the United States will never be exposed to enough fluoride to cause skeletal fluorosis. When traveling, exclusively utilize non-fluoridated bottled water for cooking, drinking, and brushing your teeth. This prevents both excessive fluoride consumption and illnesses that can come from bacteria living in unclean water.

Children in the United States can still develop dental fluorosis from the fluoride in toothpaste. Most children’s toothpastes are formulated without fluoride to prevent fluorosis. Never allow a child to use adult fluoridated toothpaste until their adult teeth have fully emerged from their gums.

(Video) Water Fluoridation, Fluorine and Fluoride

Are There Alternatives to Fluoride?

If you’re still uncomfortable with the idea of using fluoride in your toothpaste, you aren’t alone.

Many Americans have been looking to eliminate the controversial ingredient from their oral hygiene routines. Countries like China have banned or highly regulated fluoride to combat high levels of skeletal fluorosis. India is looking to remove as much fluoride from their water as possible, as their population is experiencing a widespread fluorosis epidemic. Most European countries do not fluoridate their water.

Many fluoride-free remineralizing toothpastes like Coral Toothpaste are becoming more and more available.

It’s important to note that “natural” does not automatically imply that a toothpaste is fluoride-free. Fluoride is a natural ingredient. Read the label to be sure your toothpaste specifies that it is formulated without fluoride.

Fluoride-free remineralizing toothpastes often use calcium and trace minerals that work with minerals naturally present in saliva to fortify weakened teeth while keeping them clean. SOur toothpaste also uses a plant-derived ingredient called xylitol, which helps to create a protective barrier over tooth enamel. This barrier helps to prevent further damage to the teeth when you eat and drink.

All toothpastes, whether or not they contain fluoride, work best when used twice a day for two minutes each. Floss and gentle mouthwash are also important additions to a well rounded dental hygiene routine. Removing or destroying the bacteria that contribute to tooth decay can help to slow the natural breakdown of teeth over time. Your enamel will stay stronger for longer, and you’ll reduce your chances of developing dental cavities.

In addition to regularly thoroughly cleaning your mouth, you’ll want to avoid excessive consumption of sugary or acidic foods that can contribute to tooth decay. Of course you cannot always avoid that beautiful homemade lasagna or an ice cream cone on a hot day. Just make sure you’re limiting your consumption of acids and sweets and thoroughly cleaning your mouth after you eat them.

(Video) Does Fluoride Really Calcify Your Pineal Gland?

The Takeaway

Fluorine and fluoride are not the same thing, although fluoride does come from fluorine. Fluorine in its raw state is rightfully scary, but that’s not what’s in your toothpaste or your water.

If you’re uncomfortable with the risks associated with using fluoride, it’s easy to avoid fluoridated products. There are many excellent alternatives readily available. As long as you’re taking great care of your teeth and your dentist doesn’t object, you can switch to a fluoride-free toothpaste.

Sources:

https://chemed.chem.purdue.edu/genchem/topicreview/bp/ch10/group7.php

https://www.dummies.com/education/science/chemistry/positive-and-negative-ions-cations-and-anions/

https://www.who.int/teams/environment-climate-change-and-health/water-sanitation-and-health/burden-of-disease/other-diseases-and-risks/fluorosis

FAQs

What's the difference between fluorine atom and fluoride? ›

Fluorine is a chemical element, while fluoride is either the ion of that element or else a compound containing it. The symbol F stands for fluorine, while fluoride is F or else contained in a compound (e.g., NaF).

Are fluorite and fluoride the same thing? ›

Fluoride is the main component of Fluorite (Latin, meaning 'to flow') a crystal form of Fluorine which melts easily. In its raw state, it is extremely colorful; the most common variety exhibiting clear greens and purples.

Does fluoride have fluorine or toothpaste? ›

Sodium fluoride is often added to drinking water supplies and to a variety of dental products, including toothpastes and mouth rinses to prevent dental cavities. Other fluoride compounds that are commonly used for water fluoridation are fluorosilicic acid and sodium fluorosilicate.

What are the two types of fluoride? ›

Sodium fluoride and stannous fluoride are the two major active ingredients in modern toothpastes, with sodium fluoride by far the most common. Both prevent cavities.

Is it OK to use fluoride toothpaste? ›

Is fluoride safe? Fluoride is safe for use in toothpaste and mouthwash, and most municipal water districts even add small amounts of fluoride to tap water. However, aside from the trace amounts in tap water, fluoride is not meant to be ingested.

Why is fluorine in toothpaste? ›

It can help prevent tooth decay, which is why it's added to many brands of toothpaste and, in some areas, to the water supply through a process called fluoridation.

What is another name for fluoride? ›

Acidulated Phosphate Fluoride, Atomic number 9, Calcarea Fluorica, F, Fluorophosphate, Fluorure, Fluorure d'Hydrogène, Fluorure de Phosphate Acidulé, Fluorure de Sodium, Fluorure Stanneux, Fluoruro, Hydrogen Fluoride, Monofluorophosphate, MFP, Nombre Atomique 9, Sodium Fluoride, Sodium Monofluorophosphate, ...

What do dentists use instead of fluoride? ›

Xylitol. Xylitol is a great alternative to fluoride in preventing dental decay. It is a natural sweetener classified as a sugar alcohol, extracted from the fibrous parts of plants.

Which type of fluoride is best? ›

One study even found that stannous fluoride was far more effective in fighting bacteria compared to sodium fluoride. As a rule of thumb, if you're looking for all-around protection (and not just cavity prevention), then stannous fluoride is the preferred fluoride of choice for your oral health.

What does fluorine do to your body? ›

Fluorine is essential for the maintenance of solidity of our bones. Fluorine can also protect us from dental decay, if it is applied through toothpaste twice a day. If fluorine is absorbed too frequently, it can cause teeth decay, osteoporosis and harm to kidneys, bones, nerves and muscles.

What does fluoride do to your body? ›

Fluoride, a mineral, is naturally present in many foods and available as a dietary supplement. Fluoride is the ionic form of the element fluorine, and it inhibits or reverses the initiation and progression of dental caries (tooth decay) and stimulates new bone formation [1].

What is fluorine used for? ›

What are the uses of fluorine? Fluorine is critical for the production of nuclear material for nuclear power plants and for the insulation of electric towers. Hydrogen fluoride, a compound of fluorine, is used to etch glass. Fluorine, like Teflon, is used to make plastics and is also important in dental health.

What kind of fluoride is in Colgate? ›

The active ingredient, stannous fluoride, used in the Colgate Total is recognized as safe by the US Food and Drug Administration, when used according to the Drug Facts label. Stannous Fluoride has a long history of use in oral care products since its first introduction in the 1950's.

Is there different kinds of fluoride? ›

The three most popular sources of fluoride globally, which are all accepted by the US FDA as clinically effective, are: stannous fluoride (SnF2) sodium fluoride (NaF) sodium monofluorophosphate (Na2PO3F)

What type of fluoride does Colgate use? ›

Stannous fluoride is a common active ingredient in toothpaste and has been recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA) as an effective agent in reducing tooth decay.

Why do people avoid fluoride in toothpaste? ›

Concerns about Fluoride Toxicity

Excess fluoride ingestion is linked to dental fluorosis, a condition that causes tooth enamel to become discoloured and which when present can indicate that the rest of your body has been overexposed to fluoride as well.

What is the disadvantage of fluoride toothpaste? ›

1. Tooth Discoloration. Consumption of too much of fluoride leads to yellowed or browned teeth. With regular brushing, it is easy to avoid and therefore does not poses any risk.

Why is fluoride free toothpaste better? ›

The only benefit that you'll gain is a fresher mouth with the natural toothpaste, but you will not receive any benefit against tooth decay if it doesn't have fluoride within it.

Is fluorine safe to use? ›

As with many other nutrients, fluoride appears to be safe and effective when used and consumed in appropriate amounts. It can help prevent cavities, but ingesting it in very large amounts through drinking water or other means may lead to serious health issues.

Why is fluorine good for teeth? ›

Fluoride prevents tooth decay by making the enamel more resistant to the action of acids. They and accelerate the buildup of healthy minerals in the enamel, further slowing the occurrence of decay. Studies even show that in some cases, fluoride can stop already started teeth decay.

Does bottled water have fluoride? ›

Does bottled water contain fluoride? Bottled water products may contain fluoride, depending on the source of the water. Fluoride can be naturally present in the original source of the water, and many public water systems add fluoride to their water.

Does fluoride make you tired? ›

Water fluoride levels were not significantly associated with sleeping more than the recommended amount, frequency of trouble sleeping, or frequency of daytime sleepiness.

Why do doctors prescribe fluoride? ›

Fluoride is used to prevent tooth decay. It is taken up by teeth and helps to strengthen teeth, resist acid, and block the cavity-forming action of bacteria. Fluoride usually is prescribed for children and adults whose homes have water that is not fluoridated (already has fluoride added).

Is Colgate a fluoride? ›

Yes, Colgate toothpastes contain fluoride. Fluoride fortifies tooth enamel against acid attacks and can prevent cavities in both children and adults. While proper brushing and flossing habits are critical in the removal of plaque, Colgate fluoride toothpastes provide additional benefits necessary to your oral health.

How do you keep your teeth healthy without fluoride? ›

Want 5 Fluoride-Free Ways To Prevent Cavities? Ask a Holistic Dentist in Austin!
  1. Herbal Tooth Powders. Many health food stores carry herbal tooth powders, which can be a great substitute for conventional toothpastes. ...
  2. Baking Soda. ...
  3. Coconut Oil. ...
  4. Good Oral Hygiene. ...
  5. A Low-Sugar Diet. ...
  6. About the Author.
7 Jul 2019

Do all dentists recommend fluoride? ›

Many dentists and hygienists recommend fluoride treatments for their adult patients.

How can I protect my enamel without fluoride? ›

Keep reading to find out our top 4 tips for fighting cavities without the need for fluoride.
  1. #1: Maintain Excellent Oral Hygiene.
  2. #2: Eat a Nutritious Diet (And Hydrate)
  3. #3: Rinse After Eating Sugar.
  4. #4: Visit a Holistic Dentist.
  5. About Dr. Thomas.
18 Apr 2018

Which fluoride is best for sensitive teeth? ›

Also, stannous fluoride reduces teeth hypersensitivity, which is why it's often prescribed for patients who are sensitive to foods that are hot, cold, sweet, or acidic.

What are the pros and cons of fluoride? ›

Florida Facts
ProsCons
You are never far away from the beachThe state ranks low in healthcare
The abundance of water recreationSummer is not always pleasant
This is the world's theme park capitalWeather is sometimes nasty
You pay less tax hereFlorida has lots of bugs
7 more rows

Why is fluorine so toxic? ›

Fluorine is an extremely strong irritant to all tissues it comes in contact with. It can cause injury ranging from mild irritation to caustic burns depending on the concen- tration of the gas at the time of exposure. It is a very severe irritant of the lungs, mucous membranes, skin and eyes.

Does fluoride cause memory loss? ›

The effect of fluoride exposure on the developing brain (both pre- and neonatal) manifests clinically as memory loss and impairment of cognitive processes. Epidemiological studies showed that children living in areas with excessive fluoride exposure had lower IQ values compared to less exposed children [38].

Does the human body need fluoride? ›

Fluoride is not considered an essential nutrient but plays an important role in dental and possibly bone health. A deficiency of fluoride can lead to dental caries and potentially bone problems. See the section on Fluoride and Health.

What are the symptoms of too much fluoride? ›

Symptoms of a fluoride overdose include:
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Abnormal taste in the mouth (salty or soapy taste)
  • Diarrhea.
  • Drooling.
  • Eye irritation (if it gets in the eyes)
  • Headache.
  • Abnormal levels of calcium and potassium in the blood.
  • Irregular or slow heartbeat.

Does tap water have fluoride? ›

Almost all water contains some fluoride, but usually not enough to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride can also be added to drinking water supplies as a public health measure for reducing cavities. Decisions about adding fluoride to drinking water are made at the state or local level.

Is there fluoride in coffee? ›

Beverages, mainly coffee and tea, are the main source of fluoride in our diet [18, 28–30]. Studies have shown that, regardless of the method of brewing, the highest fluorine content was recorded in green coffee infusions.

Do dentists use fluorine? ›

In the dental office, a dentist can apply fluoride varnish or gel, and in some public health programs, children can have fluoride varnish applied to their teeth. Fluoride can prevent tooth decay across the lifespan; both children and adults benefit from it.

How does fluorine become fluoride? ›

Fluorides, hydrogen fluoride, and fluorine are chemically related. Fluorine is a naturally-occurring, pale yellow-green gas with a sharp odor. It combines with metals to make fluorides such as sodium fluoride and calcium fluoride, both white solids.

Is fluorine essential for teeth? ›

In general, milk fluoridation is effective in the prevention of dental caries. In order to protect and reduce caries in primary teeth, it was recommended that fluoridated milk should be consumed by children early on, preferably before the age of 4 years, and at the eruption of their first permanent molars (24).

Which brand toothpaste is best? ›

The Top Toothpastes
  • Colgate Total. ...
  • Crest Pro-Health. ...
  • Sensodyne ProNamel Gentle Whitening Toothpaste. ...
  • Arm and Hammer Dental Care Advance Cleaning Mint Toothpaste w/Baking Soda. ...
  • Tom's of Maine Natural Anticavity Fluoride Toothpaste. ...
  • Crest Tartar Protection. ...
  • Tom's of Maine Simply White Clean Mint Toothpaste.

Should I rinse my mouth after brushing? ›

Don't rinse with water straight after toothbrushing

After brushing, spit out any excess toothpaste. Don't rinse your mouth immediately after brushing, as it'll wash away the concentrated fluoride in the remaining toothpaste. Rinsing dilutes it and reduces its preventative effects.

Is Sensodyne toothpaste a fluoride? ›

All Sensodyne products contain fluoride, which helps fight against cavities, so you can maintain healthy teeth, every day. Most Sensodyne toothpastes are also free of sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), an inactive ingredient that makes toothpastes foamy when brushing.

Which fluoride does not exist? ›

NF5 does not exists as there are 10 electrons, and N does not have vacant d-orbitals to accomodate the extra electrons.

What toothpaste has the highest fluoride? ›

Which Toothpastes Have The Highest Fluoride Content? Colgate® PreviDent® 5000 Booster Plus (1.1% Sodium Fluoride) Prescription Strength Toothpaste is among the highest fluoridated toothpastes available. You can only get it by having your dentist put in a prescription.

What toothpaste is better than fluoride? ›

Remineralization of early caries by a nano-hydroxyapatite dentifrice concludes that nano-hydroxyapatite toothpaste is an effective alternative to fluoride toothpaste.

What is the #1 recommended toothpaste? ›

We chose Colgate Cavity Protection Toothpaste as the best overall because it addresses the main uses of an effective toothpaste. It contains fluoride, the leading active ingredient recommended by dentists to strengthen teeth and prevent tooth decay.

Is Sensodyne toothpaste better than Colgate? ›

Now you know these kinds of toothpaste feature high quality, but our expert dentist recommends you to use Sensodyne. Sensodyne Features Daily usage whitens teeth; trustworthy and dentist-recommended brand; reasonable price. Colgate delivers both short- and long-term relief, as well as reinforcing tooth enamel.

Which toothpaste is recommended by dentists? ›

Best Toothpaste For Adults: Sensodyne Toothpaste

This is the best toothpaste recommended by dentists for adults as it gives extra protection for healthy gums. The toothpaste improves gum health and is also effective in reducing tooth sensitivity.

Is fluoride ion bigger than fluorine atom? ›

The addition of an electron in Fluorine atom makes it fluoride ion so no of electrons are higher than protons , the extra electron produces repulsive force in outermost shell and electrons move away from nucleus and hence radius of electronic cloud is larger than fluorine atom.

Is fluoride an atom or molecule? ›

At room temperature, fluorine is a gas of diatomic molecules, pale yellow when pure (sometimes described as yellow-green).

Why is a fluoride ion more stable than a fluorine atom? ›

The fluoride ion has an extra electron compared to the fluorine atom, and electrons (being negative) repel each other. Since there are more electrons trying to keep away from each other, the ion is larger than the atom.

Is F2 fluorine or fluoride? ›

Fluorine (F2) gas handling is of special concern. F2 is a corrosive, toxic and highly reactive oxidizer requiring special care and handling beyond what is typical for other specialty gases. In semiconductor and related applications, 100% F2 gas and 20% F2/80% N2 mixtures are typically used.

Why is fluorine a smaller size? ›

Fluorine comes after oxygen in the Periodic Table. So, it has larger nuclear charge and so, is smaller in size compared to oxygen atom.

Is fluoride ion weak or strong? ›

Fluoride is classified as a weak base since it only partially associates in solution, but concentrated fluoride is corrosive and can attack the skin.

Which is more electronegative fluorine or fluoride? ›

Fluorine is the most electronegative element because it has 5 electrons in it's 2P shell.

Are teeth made of fluoride? ›

Fluoride is an essential mineral in your teeth and bones. It helps keep your teeth healthy and strong and fluoride can also repair decaying teeth in the early stages. Fluoride found in toothpaste is absorbed by the teeth during brushing.

What is fluoride used for? ›

Fluoride is used to prevent tooth decay. It is taken up by teeth and helps to strengthen teeth, resist acid, and block the cavity-forming action of bacteria. Fluoride usually is prescribed for children and adults whose homes have water that is not fluoridated (already has fluoride added).

How does fluorine turn into fluoride? ›

Fluoride is created when salts from the element fluorine combine with minerals in soil or rocks. Fluoride is found naturally in soil, water, and many foods, and occurs naturally in the human body in bones and teeth.

What makes fluoride unique? ›

Fluoride works by stopping or even reversing the tooth decay process. It keeps the tooth enamel strong and solid by preventing the loss of (and enhancing the re- attachment of) important minerals from the tooth enamel. Of the 50 largest cities in the United States, 43 have community water fluoridation.

Why is fluoride the strongest base? ›

Fluorine is the most electronegative, so F- (fluoride ion) is the least willing to donate electrons (the weakest base). Overall, the electronegativity order is C (2.5) < N (3.0) < O (3.5) < F (4.0), so the order of basicity is -CH3 (strongest base) > -NH2 > HO- > F-.

Does fluorine make fluoride? ›

What are fluorides, hydrogen fluoride, and fluorine? Fluorides, hydrogen fluoride, and fluorine are chemically related. Fluorine is a naturally-occurring, pale yellow-green gas with a sharp odor. It combines with metals to make fluorides such as sodium fluoride and calcium fluoride, both white solids.

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