Compared with the knowledge accumulated on enamel-fluoride interactions, relatively little data is available regarding fluoride effects on dentin. This applies to both laboratory and clinical studies into the efficacy of fluoride schemes for the prevention of root surface caries. This study aimed to determine the effects of fluoride and pH on the demineralization of dentin, such as to provide information necessary to develop preventive programmes. Bovine dentin blocks were subjected to undersaturated calcium- and phosphate-containing solutions in the pH range 4.0–6.0 with fluoride added at concentrations between 0.5 and 10 ppm. Non-fluoride solutions served as controls. Mineral loss was assessed chemically and by transversal microradiography. Comparisons were made with similar studies on enamel demineralization. The results showed that demineralization of dentin depends on both pH and fluoride concentration in the demineralizing solution. Inhibition of demineralization that could be relevant from a clinical point of view was found at fluoride values 5–10 times the corresponding values for enamel. Also rapid depletion of fluoride from the solutions was observed, indicating the high uptake capacity of dentin for fluoride. Lesion depth depended on pH of the solution while the fluoride levels were associated with the surface layer, both in mineral content and depth. For dentin we propose a demineralization mechanism where acid penetrates rapidly into the tissue, presumably through the tubules, after which the released calcium and phosphate is partly trapped by the inward diffusing fluoride. This leads to the formation of a surface layer, which may even be hypermineralized compared to sound dentin.

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