Just got a postcard from my dentist telling me it’s time to schedule another dental appointment. I thought about the fluoride toothpaste I just changed to, and then I wondered about water fluoridation, the government adds fluoride to public water supplies, you know, to reduce tooth decay and hopefully prevent cavities. Hmmm, how much water would I have to drink so I wouldn’t have to go to the dentist so regularly? Wait a minute, I just read that for the fluoride to work, it has to remain in contact with the teeth, so fluoride ions that are swallowed won’t help.
Maybe I should just gargle with water more.
But fluoride is just one of the ionic compounds of Fluorine, and I thought it was funny when I found out that the name for the mineral fluorite is derived from the Latin word “flow”, because it was added to metals to make them flow.
Kind of like water, I suppose, which we now add flourine to.
But you know, it’s not just teeth that Fluorine can help… I mean check this out, Because of the stability of the carbon-fluorine bond, many drugs are fluoridated to stop their metabolism and prolong their half-lives (I always wondered how they made time-release drugs work..) And now over twenty percent of commercial drugs use Fluorine. I mean, scientists have even used the radioactive isotope fluorine-18 when performing PET scans — and it’s amazing that liquid fluorocarbons can hold gas in solution, and can even hold more oxygen and carbon that our own blood…
Wow, I didn’t realize how useful Fluorine was for helping humans out.
But the thing is, Fluorine’s actually really toxic, some isotopes are used for insecticides, and Fluorine attacks the eyes, lungs, liver and kidneys, and Hydrofluoric acid is a pretty nasty contact poison. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) have even been strictly regulated through international agreements for fear of our environment and the depletion of the Ozone… I mean, the U.S. Government even has a slew of signs for the dangers of this element: It’s a toxic gas. It’s corrosive. It’s an inhalation hazard. (wait a minute, I thought it was so good for me, how can it also be so bad?)
So too much of Flourine in the right way can be devastating for you, and in other ways it can help your bones or help your medication. Fascinating. I guess this is another way we have learned to take the bad with the good (or is it that we have learned to take the good out of the bad?).
Maybe I won’t start to gargle with water because of the Fluorine, and maybe I should just deal with everyone’s inherent fear of the dentist, and just go, and come out of it with cleaner teeth for the next six months…