BYO Tinfoil Hat
Conspiracy nut jobs love to claim that the government adds fluoride to water and toothpaste in some dastardly plan to make us all sleepy slaves, helpless to resist their evil bidding.
The truth, however, is far less scandalous and far more reassuring – fluoride is your friend, my friend! Geochemistry can explain it all. Bear with me.
Our teeth are made from a calcium phosphate mineral called apatite, which is the most common phosphate mineral. It’s got what plants crave, which is why fertiliser brands give themselves names like “Blood and Bone”. Like a lot of minerals, apatite has different chemical composition varieties, (known as “end members”), and the type that our teeth are made of is called hydroxyapatite. Hydroxyapatite is structurally weak as fuck, and so it gets easily penetrated and dissolved by acids from plaque, in a process otherwise known as tooth decay.
Luckily for us, there is a different end member of apatite which is way stronger and can step in to compensate for hydroxyapatite’s weak ass, taking one for the team. This guy is called fluorapatite, and it has a much stronger crystal structure. This means that the introduction of fluoride to hydroxyapatite teeth works to fill in the weak spots, which re-mineralizes the teeth and reverses lesions in damaged teeth. Topical fluoride, such as that from toothpaste, increases the size and rate of growth of the apatite crystals, making your teeth great again, and making them less susceptible to further decay. When you ingest fluoride via drinking water, it absorbs into the bloodstream and is also carried to new teeth sites, where the fluoride reacts with the hydroxyapatite, resulting in the developing crystals growing as fluorapatite – and therefore much stronger teeth.
So, take off your tinfoil hats, brush your teeth, skinny dip in the local water supply and rejoice, because science proves that fluoride is not out to get you!
Love, Akika xoxo