Fluoride (F) is a naturally occurring contaminant in the water. F is essential for normal maintenance of teeth and bones. However, prolonged exposure to high concentration of F is found to be deleterious to teeth, bones and other organs. Besides drinking water, F can enter the body through food, dental products, drugs and industrial emission. People living in areas where F contamination is much higher than the expected level, are found to suffer from not only teeth and bone problem but also other systems, including brain and its functions. Since animals respond to the toxic effects of F like human beings, the deleterious effects of F have been produced experimentally in animals in order to determine the mechanism involved in the action of F. The reports indicating the chronic harmful effects of F in teeth, bones, heart, liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, lungs, brain, blood, hormones and biochemical parameters of experimental animals and in in vitro studies have been reviewed in this article. The neurotoxic action of F that produces chiefly learning and memory impairment has also been included. The review also points out the harmful effects of F on reproduction, its teratogenic action and in inducing premature ageing. Finally, the reports indicating a reversal of certain toxicities of F in experimental animals after withdrawal of its exposure has been included.
Keywords: Dental fluorosis; Endemic fluorosis; F-contaminated water; Fluoride; Skeletal fluorosis.
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