Is Fluoride Good for Teeth?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is found in water, soil, and some foods. It is known for its benefits in preventing tooth decay and promoting good oral health. However, there has been a debate about the safety and effectiveness of fluoride, which has led to confusion among many people.

The Science behind Fluoride

Fluoride is a mineral that helps to strengthen tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay. It works by making the tooth enamel more resistant to acid attacks from bacteria that can cause cavities. Fluoride can be found in many sources, including toothpaste, mouthwash, and some foods.

Recommended daily allowance of fluoride

The recommended daily allowance of fluoride varies depending on age and other factors. In the United States, the recommended level of fluoride in drinking water is 0.7 milligrams per liter, which is considered safe and effective in preventing tooth decay.

Benefits of Fluoride

Fluoride has been shown to have several benefits in promoting good oral health, including reducing tooth decay, preventing cavities, strengthening tooth enamel, and improving overall oral health. It has been used for decades in community water fluoridation programs, toothpaste, and other oral care products, and has been credited with significant reductions in tooth decay and cavities.

Risks of Fluoride

While fluoride has many benefits for oral health, there are also potential risks associated with overexposure. Fluorosis, a cosmetic condition that causes white or brown spots on teeth, is a common side effect of excessive fluoride intake. Skeletal fluorosis, which can cause bone and joint problems, can also occur with excessive fluoride exposure.

Some studies have suggested that fluoride may have negative effects on thyroid function and neurological development, although more research is needed to confirm these claims.

Fluoride in Dental Products

Fluoride is a mineral that is found in the earth’s crust. It is also a common ingredient in dental products such as toothpaste, mouthwash, and supplements. The use of fluoride in dental products has been shown to strengthen teeth and prevent cavities.

Types of dental products containing fluoride

There are different types of dental products that contain fluoride. These include:

  • Fluoride toothpaste: Toothpaste containing fluoride is the most common type of dental product used to prevent cavities. Fluoride toothpaste works by strengthening the enamel of teeth and preventing the growth of harmful bacteria.
  • Fluoride mouthwash: Mouthwash containing fluoride is another type of dental product that can help prevent cavities. Fluoride mouthwash works by coating the teeth with fluoride, which helps to strengthen the enamel.
  • Fluoride supplements: Fluoride supplements are tablets or drops that contain fluoride. They are often prescribed to children who live in areas with low levels of fluoride in the water supply.

How fluoride works in dental products

Fluoride works by strengthening the enamel of teeth. Enamel is the hard, outer layer of teeth that protects them from decay. When fluoride is applied to the teeth, it is absorbed by the enamel, making it stronger and more resistant to decay. Fluoride also helps to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth, which can cause cavities.

Fluoride and Children

Fluoride is particularly important for children because it can help to prevent cavities in their developing teeth. Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to fluoride and children:

  1. Fluoride supplements: Fluoride supplements are often prescribed to children who live in areas with low levels of fluoride in the water supply. The American Dental Association recommends that children aged six months to 16 years who live in areas with less than 0.6 parts per million fluoride in the water should take fluoride supplements.
  2. Age recommendations for fluoride use: Children under the age of three should use toothpaste with a fluoride content of no more than 1000 ppm (parts per million). Children aged three to six should use toothpaste with a fluoride content of no more than 1350 ppm. Children over the age of six can use regular adult toothpaste, which contains between 1350 and 1500 ppm fluoride.
  3. Fluoride treatments for children: Fluoride treatments, such as varnishes and gels, can be applied to children’s teeth by a dentist. These treatments can help to prevent cavities and strengthen teeth.

Fluoride and Adults

While fluoride is often associated with children’s dental health, it is also important for adults. In fact, studies have shown that adults who use fluoride products regularly have a lower risk of developing cavities and tooth decay.

Benefits of fluoride for adults include:

  1. Strengthening enamel and preventing tooth decay
  2. Reducing sensitivity in teeth
  3. Preventing gum disease by reducing the growth of harmful bacteria

However, it’s important to note that too much fluoride can be harmful to adults. Overexposure to fluoride can cause fluorosis, a condition that causes white spots or streaks on the teeth. Fluorosis is typically caused by ingesting too much fluoride, either through drinking water or dental products.

Fluoride treatments, such as fluoride varnish, are also recommended for adults who are at high risk of developing cavities or who have weak enamel. These treatments can be especially beneficial for those who have undergone radiation therapy or have a history of gum disease.

How to Ensure Proper Fluoride Intake

  1. Monitoring Fluoride Intake: It is important to monitor your fluoride intake, especially for young children who may accidentally swallow toothpaste or mouthwash. Check the labels of your toothpaste and mouthwash to see how much fluoride they contain, and adjust accordingly.
  2. Fluoride Supplements: If you live in an area with low fluoride levels in the water or if your dentist recommends it, fluoride supplements may be an option. These are usually in the form of drops, tablets, or lozenges, and are taken daily to help increase fluoride intake.
  3. Fluoride Treatments: Fluoride treatments at the dentist can also help boost fluoride levels. These treatments usually involve applying a fluoride gel or varnish to the teeth, and are particularly useful for children who are still developing their teeth.
  4. Fluoride-Free Alternatives: If you are concerned about fluoride intake or prefer to avoid it altogether, there are fluoride-free alternatives available. These include toothpaste and mouthwash that are made without fluoride, as well as natural alternatives.

Natural Alternatives to Fluoride

  • Xylitol: Xylitol is a natural sweetener that has been shown to help prevent tooth decay.
  • Oil Pulling: Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that can help remove bacteria and toxins from the mouth, promoting dental health.
  • Natural Toothpaste: There are many natural toothpaste options available that are made without fluoride. These may contain natural ingredients like baking soda, charcoal, or essential oils that can help promote dental health.
  • Natural Mouthwash: Like natural toothpaste, there are also natural mouthwash options available that are fluoride-free. These may contain natural ingredients like tea tree oil, peppermint oil, or aloe vera to help promote dental health.


Fluoride is valuable in promoting good oral health and preventing tooth decay. While there may be concerns about excess fluoride intake, with proper monitoring and use, fluoride can be safe and effective.

Tooth Town is dedicated to providing the best dental care for our patients, including fluoride treatments and guidance on proper fluoride intake. We encourage you to schedule an appointment with us to discuss your dental health and ensure that you and your family are receiving the proper care and attention to maintain healthy, strong teeth for a lifetime.