Fluorine (F) is the first element
of the halogen
family and the most reactive of all chemical elements.
The term "fluoride" refers to
its ionic form (F-)
and "fluorides" to fluoride-containing
compounds, both organic
Fluorine is never found by itself in nature but
fluorides are found everywhere: in soil, air,
and water, as well as in plant and animal life.
Fluoride is commonly added to tap water, particularly
in North America, and used in dental products
to help prevent tooth decay.
Fluorides are important industrial chemicals
with a number of uses but the largest uses are
for the production of aluminium and specialty
chemicals used for refrigeration and air conditioning
through fluorocarbons, for drinking-water fluoridation
and for the manufacture of fluoridated dental
In excessive amounts, fluoride can lead to fluorosis.