Fluoride is a compound of the
element fluorine, which is found universally
throughout nature in water, soil, air and food.
Existing abundantly in living tissue as an ion,
fluoride is absorbed easily into tooth enamel,
especially in children's growing teeth. Once
teeth are developed, fluoride makes the entire
tooth structure more resistant to decay and
promotes remineralization, which aids in
repairing early decay before the damage is even
visible. Two forms of fluoride protect the
teeth: systemic fluoride and topical fluoride.
What is systemic fluoride?
is ingested into the body when added to public
and private water supplies, soft drinks and teas
and is available in dietary supplement form.
Once systemic fluoride is absorbed via the
gastrointestinal tract, the blood supply
distributes it throughout the entire body. Most
fluoride not excreted is deposited in bones and
hard tissues like teeth.
fluoride, and when should I use it?
is applied directly to the teeth. It is found in
products containing strong concentrations of
fluoride to fight tooth decay, such as
toothpastes and mouth rinses. These products are
then expectorated or rinsed from the mouth
without swallowing. Dentists recommend brushing
with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day
or after every meal, combined with a regimen of
flossing and regular dental checkups.
administered topical fluorides such as gels or
varnishes are applied by a dentist and left on
for about four minutes, usually during a
cleaning treatment. For patients with a high
risk of cavities, the dentist may prescribe a
special gel for daily home use, to be applied
with or without a mouth tray for up to six
Why is most of
the water we drink fluoridated?
protects against cavities and root caries – a
progressive erosion of adult root surfaces
caused by gum recession – and helps remineralize
early carious lesions. Thanks to these
preventive benefits, public water fluoridation
is considered the most efficient and
cost-effective cavity prevention measure
available. More than 144 million United States
residents in more than 10,000 communities drink
fluoridated water, most from public water
supplies with artificially added fluoride. A
small percentage get water from private wells
with naturally fluoridated water.
Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that the
accepted "optimal" range of fluoride in water
lies between 0.7 and 1.2 parts per million (ppm)
or milligram per liter. The limit allowed by the
EPA in public water is 4 ppm. Backed by results
from more than 140 documented studies undertaken
in 20 different countries over the past several
decades, fluoridated water adhering to these
standards has been scientifically established as
safe for drinking. Water fluoridation is
endorsed by nearly every major health and
safety-related organization. Fluoridation of
community water supplies is the single most
effective public-health measure to prevent tooth
decay and to improve oral health for a lifetime.
more sensitive to fluoride?
are sensitive to higher fluoride levels. In
young children, excess fluoride intake can cause
dental fluorosis, a harmless cosmetic
discoloring or mottling of the enamel, visible
as chalky white specks and lines or pitted and
brown stained enamel on developing teeth. They
are at greater risk if they swallow or use too
much toothpaste and fluoride supplements or
regularly drink water containing excessive
monitor the use of toothpaste, mouth rinses or
other topical fluoride supplements in young
children, checking with a dentist on proper
dosage. If you are concerned about the fluoride
levels in your drinking water, call the local
public water department or your water supplier.
If the source is a private well, request a
fluoride content analysis taken via a water
sample through your local or county health