Previous studies have focused on enamel and plaque as the primary sites of fluoride (F) retention in the mouth. The present study was undertaken to evaluate the role of oral soft tissue as a site of F retention by comparing an edentulous subject panel (n = 9) with a fully dentate panel (n = 10). Unstimulated whole saliva samples were collected by having subjects pool saliva for two min. Samples were collected over a 24-hour period after application of a placebo dentifrice (PD; 0.4 ppm F), fluoride dentifrice (FD; 1100 ppm F), fluoride rinse (FR; 226 ppm F), or fluoride gel (FG; 5000 ppm F) delivered in custom trays. There was no statistically significant difference in salivary flow rate between the two panels for any of the treatments. The edentulous panel had higher salivary F levels than the dentate panel, which reached statistical significance (p < 0.05) for the FD and FG treatments. In a separate study involving the same treatments, F levels at specific soft-tissue sites were measured over a one-hour period by use of absorbent discs placed in different soft-tissue areas of the mouth. The tongue and lower posterior vestibule retained the highest F levels, followed by the upper posterior buccal vestibule and upper anterior labial vestibule, with the lowest F levels retained in the lower anterior vestibule and the floor of the mouth. There was a strong-to-moderate correlation between whole saliva F concentration and F levels at specific soft-tissue sites. This study establishes the importance of oral soft tissue as the major site of F retention in the mouth.
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