Washington: Regular use of fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash, known to toughen teeth enamel, also acts on plaque-causing bugs. Conversely, these bugs try to fend off fluoride as a toxic substance, according to a new study led by Ronald Breaker, a researcher at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).
The bacterial response indicates that fluoride itself has antimicrobial properties, Breaker said.
"Our data not only help explain how cells fight the toxicity of fluoride, but it also gives us a sense of how we might be able to enhance the antimicrobial properties of fluoride," says Breaker.
"In the future we might be able to use this knowledge to make fluoride even more toxic to bacteria," he adds.
Blocking the fluoride channel, for example, makes cells 200 times more sensitive to fluoride, the researchers showed.