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Fluorine And The Facts

A reason why brushing teeth remains to be one of the important ways to maintain oral hygiene is because of its fluorine content, in the form of fluoride. Fluorine is also seen as a cause for the greenhouse effect, together with carbon and hydrogen. Light bulbs also make use of fluorine for its glass etches. Fluorine is also useful for the eradication of insects through insecticides. Molten metal gets its ability to flow by using fluorine. In fact, this is how it got its name.

Aside from propagating the prevention of decay in the oral cavity, some medications contain fluorine to act as anesthetics such as desflurane, isoflurane, and sevoflurane. It is also part of some inflammatory medications such as dexamethasone. Antifungal drugs use fluconazole which contains fluorine to treat fungal infections. Even antibiotics such as fluoroquinolones include fluorine in its mixture. An important role of fluorine in medications is found in the production of antidepressants that belong to the group SSRIs or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. Examples of this consist of escitalopram, citalopram, fluoxetine, oxalate, paroxetine, and fluvoxamine maleate. However, there are some exceptions such as sertraline.

Fluorine was actually first discovered only in 1530 as a calcium compound, specifically calcium fluoride, or commonly known as fluorspar or fluorite. This discovery was first made by Georgius Agricola as he used the compound to promote metal fusion or mineral fusion, also known as flux. Other scientists also experimented with fluorine compounds, including Carl Scheel, Gay-Lussac, Caroline Menard, Louis Thenard and Antoine Lavoisier. But it was only in 1886 when it was fully isolated by Henri Moissan since to isolate fluorine from its acidic form is very risky, causing death or at the least blindness to those who experiment with it. Fluorine has also been a part of the atomic bombs used during World War II, which acted as a carrier of uranium.

Due to delicate and dangerous nature of fluorine, extreme care must be practiced especially when handling this element. Even as an ion or as a hydrofluoric acid solution, it cannot be handled with bare hands. Its effect on the skin is not immediately noticed since the victim doesn’t feel it at first and yet, the nerves in the area are already damaged.

Fluorine in fluoride form is a micromineral that is needed by the body, specifically for the strength and hardness of bones and teeth. A deficiency of this element may lead to dental caries and some data even points to the occurrence of osteoporosis. Unfortunately, too much fluorine may also cause dental fluorosis whose symptom is yellowing of the teeth. A common avenue for getting fluoride aside from toothpastes can be drinking water. There are a lot of places where fluorine has been added to its water supply. However, this has been the cause of sever controversy on its effect on the health of children especially when the levels of fluorine go up to critical levels.

Fluorine is not considered an essential mineral in the body although it still has its beneficial effects on the body that cannot be disregarded.