Fluoride is a natural mineral found in body in the form of its salt known as calcium fluoride. It helps to strengthen the bones and growing teeth in children. Fluoride makes the enamel of the teeth hard in children as well as in adults. It is helps to prevent cavities.
Fluoride is present in many products that we may ingest knowingly or unknowingly such as tooth paste, dietary supplements, fluoridated water from natural underground source, pesticides, bottled tea, etc. Fluoride is a double edge sword. Although it is beneficial for bones and teeth, too much of fluoride in body can actually harm body organs.
Normally the body requirement of fluoride is 3 to 4 milligrams in adults. Having too much of this mineral can pose far reaching negative effect on the body. Let us understand the side effects of fluoride when it is present excess in the body.
Side Effects Of Too Much Fluoride Ingestion
Consuming fluoride in large amount regularly through various sources can be detrimental for health. Fluoride is usually available in various products in two forms; calcium fluoride and sodium fluoride. When taken in excess, both are harmful for the body. However, calcium fluoride is less damaging compared to sodium fluoride.
Here are some important side effects of fluoride.
- Dental fluorosis: Dental fluorosis is a cosmetic problem of teeth. In this condition there is yellow or dark brown staining of teeth. It generally occurs due to overexposure to fluoride during the early ages that is between 1 to 8 years. It is the time when permanent teeth usually start developing inside the gums. Due to excess exposure of fluoride the tooth enamel is damaged and becomes brittle. Over a period of time, you may notice pitting on the surface of teeth. Fortunately vast majority cases of fluorosis are mild.
- Renal damage: When too much of fluoride is present in the body, body tries to flush it out of the system. It does so through the renal route. It flushes out through urine. Thus inorganic form of fluoride has to pass through kidneys. When high concentration of fluoride present in water passes through the kidney tubules and its other filtering organs it causes damage to them. Over a period of time too much of fluoride in the body can compromise the function of kidney.
- Side effects in stomach and duodenum: Fluoride and hydrogen ion can combine together to form hydrogen fluoride. Stomach contains hydrochloric acid for the purpose of digestion and breaking various food particles into carbohydrates, and proteins. However, when the internal system is exposed to excess of fluoride, too much of hydrogen fluoride is formed in the stomach. It is damaging for the stomach lining. Thus side effects such as gastric erosion, stomach ulcer, duodenal ulcer, can develop.
- Demineralization: While fluoride in right amount strengthens bone, conversely too much of it can actually weaken the bone by the process of demineralization. In such condition person may suffer from conditions such as osteoporosis and tooth decay.
- Hyperkalemia: Although very rare, excess of fluoride can increase the level of potassium in blood which in medical terminology is called hyperkalemia. Hyperkalemia can affect heart function which may sometime be life threatening.