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Caries Res. 2012;46(1):78-81. doi: 10.1159/000336397. Epub 2012 Feb 10.

New insight on the response of bacteria to fluoride.

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  • 1Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Yale University, Box 208103 New Haven, CT 06520-8103, USA.


Fluoride has been used for decades to prevent caries and it is well established that this anion can inhibit the growth of bacteria. However, the precise effects that fluoride has on bacteria and the mechanisms that bacteria use to overcome fluoride toxicity have largely remained unexplored. Recently, my laboratory reported the discovery of biological systems that bacteria use to sense fluoride and reduce fluoride toxicity. These sensors and their associated genes are very widespread in biology, which has implications for a number of issues that are central to the use of fluoride for dental care. Below I provide a summary of our findings, comment on some of the key prospects for expanding our understanding of fluoride's effects on biology, and propose some future uses of this knowledge.

Copyright © 2012 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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