Fluoride (F-) ions at concentrations present in vivo at the plaque/enamel interface (0.05–10 mM) inhibited the 4activities of lactoperoxidase (LP), myeloperoxidase (MP) and total salivary peroxidase (TSP) in a pH- and dose-dependent way. The inhibition was observed only at pH ≤ 6.5 and with F concentrations ≥ 0.1 mM. At pH 5.5 LP activity was inhibited by 85% and MP by 34% with 10 mM F-. TSP activity was also inhibited only at low pH (5.5) by approximately 25%. Furthermore, the generation of the actual antimicrobial agent in vivo, hypothiocyanite (HOSCN/OSCN), of the oral peroxidase systems was inhibited by F-, again at low pH (5.0–5.5) both in buffer (by 45%) and in saliva (by 15%). This inhibition was observed only with the highest F- concentrations studied (5–10 mM). Fluoridated toothpaste (with 0.10 or 0.14% F) mixed with saliva did not inhibit TSP or HOSCN/OSCN generation. This may have been due to the ‘buffering’ effect of toothpaste which did not allow salivary pH to drop below 5.9. We conclude that the F- ions in acidic fluoride products, e.g. in gels or varnishes (but not in toothpastes), may have the potential to locally inhibit the generation of a nonimmune host defense factor, HOSCN/OSCN/SCN produced by oral peroxidase systems. The possible clinical significance of this finding remains to be shown.

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