Fluoride alternative

The protective shield thought to be formed by fluoride on the surface of teeth could be less than a tenth the thickness that earlier research suggested. Fluoride in some toothpaste, mouthwash and municipal drinking water is one of the most effective ways to prevent tooth decay. However, research by Frank Mueller and colleagues at Saarland University in Saarbrucken, Germany, using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy to analyze the depth and crystal structure of the films formed on teeth by fluoride confounds the theory that the film is a simple physical barrier. In research published recently in the journal Langmuir, the team suggests that the film of fluoridated hydroxyapatite thought to help protect teeth is so thin, at just 6 nanometers, that fluoride protection must arise through an alternative mechanism.