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Regular toothbrushing with fluoride toothpaste prevents dental caries. New research suggests that fluoride prevents bacteria from adhering to teeth. (Photo: Creativa/Shutterstock)
May 1, 2013 | News Europe

Fluoride reduces bacterial adhesion to teeth

by Dental Tribune International

SAARBRÜCKEN, Germany: The effect of fluoride in toothpaste has been a matter of controversial debate among experts. Now, researchers from Germany have discovered that fluoride decreases the adhesive forces of oral bacteria and cariogenic pathogens in particular. The findings could help improve dental fillings, dentures and implants in the future.

In order to determine the role of fluoride in the interaction between bacteria and dental surfaces, researchers from Saarland University tested the adhesion of caries-inducing Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus oralis and Staphylococcus carnosus to smooth, high-density hydroxyapatite surfaces using force spectroscopy. The small plates resembled tooth enamel in their composition and were produced especially for the experiments.

Overall, the researchers observed lower adhesive forces after fluoride treatment of the surfaces in all bacteria species. Compared with untreated surfaces, the adhesion was only half as strong. “Whether these laboratory results also apply to the oral cavity needs to be verified in further studies,” said Dr Karin Jacobs, Professor of Experimental Physics at the university.

In contrast to prior studies that traced the cavity-preventive effect of fluoride back to effects on demineralisation, these findings suggest that the decrease in adhesive forces is a key factor of the cariostatic effect of fluoride, the researchers concluded.

The study, titled “Reduced adhesion of oral bacteria on hydroxyapatite by fluoride treatment”, was published online on 22 April in the Langmuir journal.

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