|Classification and external resources|
Fluoride or fluorine deficiency is a disorder which may cause increased dental caries and possibly osteoporosis due to a lack of fluoride in the diet. The extent to which the condition truly exists, and its relationship to fluoride poisoning has given rise to some controversy. Fluorine is not considered to be an essential nutrient, but the importance of fluorides for preventing tooth decay is well-recognized, although the effect is predominantly topical. Prior to 1981, the effect of fluorides was thought to be largely systemic and preeruptive, requiring ingestion. A role in osteoporosis has been researched, but only the smallest of 3 trials (n=64) found a decrease in fractures, while the others found no difference (n=202) or an increase in fractures (n=354).
Fluoride is considered essential in the development and maintenance of teeth by the American Dental Hygienists' Association. Caries-inhibiting effects of fluoride were first seen in 1902 when fluoride in high concentrations was found to stain teeth and prevent tooth decay.
Disputes over the essentiality of fluorine date back to the 19th century, when fluorine was observed in teeth and bones. In 1973 a trial found reduced reproduction in mice fed fluorine-deficient diets, but a subsequent investigation determined that this was due to reduced iron absorption.
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