Current concept on the anticaries fluoride mechanism of the action

Coll Antropol. 2001 Dec;25(2):703-12.


The paper discusses a possible new concept of the role of fluoride and its mechanism of action in caries prevention. In the past fluoride inhibition of caries was ascribed to reduced solubility due to incorporation of fluoride (F) into the enamel minerals (firmly bound fluoride or fluorapatite). Based on the new findings, it appears that fluoride, either released into or present in the fluid phase bathing the hard tissue, is more important for the reduction of caries development and progression. There is convincing evidence that fluoride has a major effect on demineralization and remineralization of dental hard tissue and that it interferes with acid production from cariogenic bacteria. The provision of dissolved fluoride is the key to successful therapy. The source of this fluoride could either be fluorapatite or calcium fluoride (CaF2) (like) precipitates, which are formed on the enamel and in the plaque after application of topical fluoride. The precipitates of calcium fluoride do not dissolve quickly as was initially believed. Calcium fluoride coating at neutral pH by pellicle proteins and phosphate is the main reason for this. The dissolution of the fluoride from calcium fluoride is pH dependent. At lower pH, the coating is lost and an increased dissolution rate of calcium fluoride occurs. The CaF2, therefore, act as an efficient source of free fluoride ions during the cariogenic challenge. These are subsequently incorporated into the enamel as hydroxyfluorapatite or fluorapatite.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Calcium Fluoride / chemistry
  • Calcium Fluoride / pharmacology
  • Cariostatic Agents / chemistry
  • Cariostatic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Dental Caries / physiopathology*
  • Dental Caries / prevention & control*
  • Dental Pellicle
  • Fluorides / chemistry
  • Fluorides / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Tooth Demineralization / physiopathology


  • Cariostatic Agents
  • Calcium Fluoride
  • Fluorides