The Truth About Fluoride - Gateway (2023)

Brush, floss and avoid consuming lots of sugar. That’s the standard advice when it comes to keeping your teeth healthy and preventing decay. But for decades, dentists have relied on another tool, called fluoride, to help patients protect their oral hygiene.

Many people mistakenly believe fluoride is an artificial chemical added to their toothpaste. However, fluoride is derived from a naturally occurring element called fluorine found in plants, rocks, soil and water. It’s an ion of fluorine, meaning it combines with other elements to create the properties that keep your mouth healthy.

Is fluoride good for your teeth? Absolutely. In fact, fluoride may be the most important dental discovery in history.When applied in the correct dosage and used in the right way, it’s highly effective inpreventing tooth decay, helping both children and adults maintain a healthy smile.

However, fluoride is often misunderstood. Sometimes, patients assume it’s just for children, or they think it’s a man-made chemical with harmful side effects. Others don’t realize they aren’t getting enough fluoride to protect their teeth. To enjoy fluoride’s benefits, you should understand the pros and cons of fluoride treatments and fluoride in general.

What Is Fluoride?

Fluoride comes from a natural element called fluorine found in natural elements like water. When combined with other elements, it becomes fluoride. Fluoride is added to numerous dental products and community water supplies due to its protection against tooth decay.

One common misconception is that fluoride is only necessary for children whose teeth are growing and developing. However, fluoride is just as important for adults — and in some cases, it can actually help regenerate damaged or worn enamel.

Because of its time-tested ability to prevent tooth decay, fluoride exists in many dental products, including toothpaste, mouthwash, tablets and drops. Fluoride also works as a professional topical treatment at regular dental checkups. Although fluoride does occur naturally in some water sources, you probably already know many communities add fluoride to their water supply to ensure fluoride exists in the water at the appropriate levels.

Note that while some people believe fluoride is unnatural or dangerous, that’s not the case. Like vitamin D, calcium and other minerals, fluoride is beneficial for your health when consumed or applied in moderation. Dentists in Canada haveused fluoride since the 1940s, and continued research backs up its effectiveness.

The Truth About Fluoride - Gateway (1)

The Benefits of Fluoride: How It Protects Your Teeth

The main purpose of fluoride is to keep your teeth’s enamel strong and protected.

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Fluoride works to protect enamel, which is the hard outer layer of teeth. This area constantly encounters bacteria and acid created from the food and beverages you consume each day.When you eat products like sugary beverages, those sugars interact with the bacteria in your mouth to create acid that attacks your teeth.

This acid strips calcium and phosphate from the enamel, leaving the tooth vulnerable to cavities and decay.Over time, the enamel erodes to the point where it can no longer protect your teeth. Therefore, they’re more susceptible to cavities and decay, which can lead to pain and discomfort.

The saliva in your mouth is designed to remove acid trying to break down tooth enamel by washing it away. That’s where fluoride comes in. When you have fluoride in your saliva, your body can block the acid’s destructive properties in your mouth. As a result, the saliva prevents the acid from stripping away the enamel and leaving your teeth vulnerable to decay.

The fluoride combines with the calcium and phosphates in your enamel to stop the enamel from breaking down. It even helps to rebuild lost enamel. Thanks to fluoride, you can enjoy a healthy smile.

Should I Use Fluoride Toothpaste?

We’re often asked, “Does fluoride toothpaste work?”Oneof the easiest ways to enjoy fluoride’s daily protection is by brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste. But whenyou spit out the toothpaste after you brush, it’s easy to think you spit out the fluoride, too. Fortunately, fluoride toothpasteworks by preventing decay and improving enamel because it stays in your saliva even after brushing.

That said, it’s important to remember that just because fluoride occurs in nature doesn’t mean that it’s safe to consume in large quantities.Fluoride is poisonous when you ingest too much. To protect against overconsumption, you should remember these points:

  • Follow the directions written on your toothpaste. Be careful to use the amount recommended on the label.
  • Don’t swallow your toothpaste after you brush. Spit it out and then rinse your mouth.
  • Children under the age of 6 should not use toothpaste that contains fluoride and should be taught proper brushing techniques to avoid ingesting fluoride.

When it comes to fluoride for teeth pros and cons, you can enjoy the pros as long as you remember these tips.

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Is Fluoride-Free Toothpaste Effective?

There’s toothpaste for adults on the market that doesn’t contain fluoride. Often, patients wonder whether these are smart options. While some of these alternatives do contain ingredients that remove plaque and stains while preventing bacteria from harming enamel, they don’t offer the same tooth-strengthening ability.

If you opt to use a toothpaste without fluoride, it’s crucial to maintain proper brushing habits, limit consumption sugar consumption and schedule regular dental checkups to detect potential problems early. Adult patients should use a fluoride toothpaste in their daily oral care routine.If you have questions about using fluoride toothpaste, feel free to contact us to schedule an appointment.

This way, we can figure out the right products and treatments for your oral health situation.

Is Fluoride Dangerous to Children?

Fluoride is safe for children and adults when used correctly. However, preventing young children from swallowing toothpaste isn’t always easy. In some cases, it may leave children vulnerable to certain side effects. Many parents show concern over fluoride’s pros and cons, both in the office and at home. But the truth is that fluoride has numerous benefits that outweigh the rare negatives.

Some dentists will recommend children begin brushing with fluoride toothpaste betweenthe ages of three and six,depending on their tooth decay risk. If the risk is low, their dentist may recommend waiting until they master the ability to brush and spit without swallowing toothpaste.

If your dentist recommends using a fluoride toothpaste for your child, start with pea-sized amounts. This way, your kids will get the fluoride’s protection, but they won’t ingest too much. Keep in mind that occasionally swallowing a little toothpaste won’t be harmful to children. If you keep an eye on them while they brush, you can help them use the correct amount.

The risk is small, but there’s a slight chance that a child who regularly swallows toothpaste with fluoride in it may develop dental fluorosis. It’s a condition wherewhite spots develop on the enamel of a child’s permanent teeth when they grow.This issue only happens if they consumed too much fluoride before their permanent teeth came through the gumline.Fortunately, children are onlyat risk until age eight, as they can’t get dental fluorosis after their permanent teeth grow in.

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If you live somewhere without a community water supply, talk with your dentist about fluoride supplements and whether your child will benefit from them in absence of fluoride in their water. They can advise you on the amount your child needs, as well as how to administer it. Supplements are available in tablet or liquid forms so children of all ages can consume them without difficulty.

It’s also important to note there’s no reason to worry if you’re preparing formula for an infant using fluoridated water. Community water supplies are properly adjusted so the amount of fluoride in the water will not harm an infant. Women who’re pregnant or breastfeeding also don’t need to worry about any effects on the fetus or infant when consuming water from a fluoridated supply.

Fluoride Use in Grande Prairie, Alberta

The Gateway Dentistry Group is afull-service dental practiceproviding dental care and oral surgery for children and adults of all ages. Our non-hospital surgical facility is accredited by the Alberta Dental Association and College, and theCollege of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta.

We offer numerous sedation options, including pediatric anesthesia. In addition to regular dental checkups and cleanings, we offer dental services for dental emergencies, dental implants, teeth whitening, wisdom teeth and extractions, periodontal surgery, crowns and bridges, sleep apnea and more.

If you want to talk about fluoride for teeth or you’re looking for a new dentist to treat another oral health issue, contact us toschedule your appointment today.


What does fluoride do to your body? ›

Fluoride, a mineral, is naturally present in many foods and available as a dietary supplement. Fluoride is the ionic form of the element fluorine, and it inhibits or reverses the initiation and progression of dental caries (tooth decay) and stimulates new bone formation [1].

What is the disadvantage of fluoride toothpaste? ›

1. Tooth Discoloration. Consumption of too much of fluoride leads to yellowed or browned teeth. With regular brushing, it is easy to avoid and therefore does not poses any risk.

Can fluoride cross the blood brain barrier? ›

Within the brain, fluoride appears to accumulate in regions responsible for memory and learning [34, 35]. As fluoride can pass both the placental barrier and the blood-brain barrier, it reaches the fetal brain [36].

What happens if you stop using fluoride? ›

“Previous research indicates that without the presence of optimal levels of fluoride in drinking water, and thus in the mouth and saliva, teeth may form with weaker enamel and lack the ability to remineralize early signs of decay,” the study researchers warn.

Do humans need fluoride? ›

Although its role in the prevention of dental caries (tooth decay) is well established, fluoride is not generally considered an essential mineral element because humans do not require it for growth or to sustain life (2).

Does tap water have fluoride? ›

Almost all water contains some fluoride, but usually not enough to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride can also be added to drinking water supplies as a public health measure for reducing cavities. Decisions about adding fluoride to drinking water are made at the state or local level.

Do dentists recommend fluoride? ›

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends a professional fluoride treatment at your dentist's office every 3, 6, or 12 months, depending on your oral health. If you're at high risk for cavities, your dentist may also prescribe a special fluoride rinse or gel to use regularly at home.

Is toothpaste without fluoride good? ›

Yes, it's safe to use toothpaste without fluoride. It may not strengthen your teeth like fluoridated toothpaste does, but it will give your teeth a clean scrub. Fluoride-free toothpastes contain natural ingredients like hydrated silica that act as a mild abrasive to remove plaque, bacteria, and stains.

Do adults need fluoride toothpaste? ›

Fluoride is not just for kids. Adult teeth need protection too. Fluoride offers several benefits when it comes to cavity prevention. It helps strengthen tooth enamel, making it more resistant to acid attacks, and also prevents harmful bacteria from building up around the gums.

Does Brita filter remove fluoride? ›

The three types of filters that can remove fluoride are reverse osmosis, deionizers (which use ion-exchange resins), and activated alumina. Each of these filters should be able to remove about 90% of the fluoride. By contrast, “activated carbon” filters (e.g., Brita & Pur) do not remove fluoride.

Does bottled water have fluoride? ›

Does bottled water contain fluoride? Bottled water products may contain fluoride, depending on the source of the water. Fluoride can be naturally present in the original source of the water, and many public water systems add fluoride to their water.

Do water filters remove fluoride? ›

Can a Water Filter Remove Fluoride? A reverse osmosis filtration system is a simple solution for removing fluoride from drinking water. A Reverse Osmosis (RO) system can remove 85-92%* of fluoride in your water.

Why do people want fluoride-free toothpaste? ›

Why Use Fluoride-Free Toothpaste? In general, dentists dissuade patients from using fluoride-free toothpaste due to the mineral's effects on long-term tooth health. Yet select consumers may request a fluoride-free toothpaste if they: Have a fluoride allergy or experienced dental fluorosis.

How can I clean my teeth without fluoride? ›

Want 5 Fluoride-Free Ways To Prevent Cavities? Ask a Holistic Dentist in Austin!
  1. Herbal Tooth Powders. Many health food stores carry herbal tooth powders, which can be a great substitute for conventional toothpastes. ...
  2. Baking Soda. ...
  3. Coconut Oil. ...
  4. Good Oral Hygiene. ...
  5. A Low-Sugar Diet. ...
  6. About the Author.
7 Jul 2019

Do you really need toothpaste? ›

Unlike popular belief, using toothpaste is not mandatory while brushing our teeth. Brushing our teeth with a paste makes our mouth feel fresh and clean, but toothpaste is, in fact, an avoidable step. The greatest threat to our teeth and gums is dental plaque that accumulates after eating food and drinking liquids.

Does coffee have fluoride? ›

Coffee is a rich source of dietary antioxidants, and this property links with the fact that coffee is one of the world's most popular beverages. Moreover, it is a source of macro- and microelements, including fluoride.

What are the pros and cons of fluoride? ›

The sole purpose of fluoride is to strengthen the enamel of the teeth, which should (so research has shown) prevent cavities and tooth loss. This assumption has been called into question over time. In fact, many studies have shown that fluoride may cause a cosmetically damaging effect called fluorosis.

How do you get fluoride naturally? ›

5 Foods that Contain Fluoride
  1. Grapes, Raisins, and Wine. Grapes are an excellent natural source of fluoride, which explains why raisins contain one of the highest concentrations of any food. ...
  2. Fruit. The types of fruit that contain fluoride are tremendously varied and seemingly endless. ...
  3. Vegetables. ...
  4. Seafood. ...
  5. Tea and Coffee.
1 Mar 2022

Which bottled water has no fluoride? ›

Dasani is sourced from municipal water, and is much like filtered tap water. The brand removes fluoride from its bottled water, leaving you with fresh, clean drinking water that is fluoride-free!

Is fluoride in drinking water harmful? ›

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set a maximum amount of fluoride allowable in drinking water of 4.0 mg/L. Long-term exposure to levels higher than this can cause a condition called skeletal fluorosis, in which fluoride builds up in the bones.

How much fluoride is in bottled water? ›

Today the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued its final rule for added fluoride levels in bottled water titled Beverages: Bottled Water. This final rule amends the allowable level for fluoride in domestically packaged and imported bottled water to which fluoride is added to 0.7 milligrams per liter (mg/L).

How long should fluoride stay on teeth? ›

When should you start eating? The dentist recommends that you avoid eating anything for 30 minutes after receiving fluoride treatment. The half-hour period is enough for all the fluoride to be absorbed entirely. Some brands available in the market have a longer period ranging between 4 to 6 hours.

How long do you leave fluoride on your teeth? ›

In general, patients are advised to wait 30 minutes after a fluoride treatment before eating or drinking. This 30-minutes allows time for the fluoride treatment to seal to the teeth. Additionally, you may want to think more about what you are eating after a fluoride treatment.

What can you use instead of fluoride? ›

These alternatives to fluoride have been proven beneficial for a healthy mouth. Suggesting xylitol, coral calcium, silver, arginine, and theobromine provides beneficial options to patients who choose not to use fluoride.

Which brand toothpaste is best? ›

The Top Toothpastes
  • Colgate Total. ...
  • Crest Pro-Health. ...
  • Sensodyne ProNamel Gentle Whitening Toothpaste. ...
  • Arm and Hammer Dental Care Advance Cleaning Mint Toothpaste w/Baking Soda. ...
  • Tom's of Maine Natural Anticavity Fluoride Toothpaste. ...
  • Crest Tartar Protection. ...
  • Tom's of Maine Simply White Clean Mint Toothpaste.

Does fluoride whiten teeth? ›

Fluoride is a safe, effective way to protect your teeth from advancing tooth decay, cavities, and acts as a whitener. Fluoride treatments are offered after every dental cleaning appointment at Martin Dentistry.

Which fluoride is best for teeth? ›

As a rule of thumb, if you're looking for all-around protection (and not just cavity prevention), then stannous fluoride is the preferred fluoride of choice for your oral health. Sodium fluoride doesn't cut it when considering tooth decay prevention.

Does fluoride help receding gums? ›

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that has been shown to reduce the risk of cavities for people of all ages. It is also very effective in reducing tooth sensitivity due to gum recession and loss of enamel.

How much fluoride is too much? ›

Fluoride levels of 2.5 mg/L or higher may increase the risk of skeletal fluorosis (a condition that causes bones to break easily and causes calcium to build up in ligaments and tendons).

Does distilled water have fluoride? ›

Summary: Distilled water is a type of purified water that is essentially free from contaminants. The distillation process removes fluoride and natural minerals found in drinking water.

How do you test for fluoride in water? ›

To perform the test, the user must mix a 4 ml water sample and 1 ml zirconium xylenol orange reagent. The color changes from pink to yellow depends on the fluoride concentration in the sample. By comparing the color produced with the color chart, the fluoride content in the water can be quantified.

Is tap water good for your teeth? ›

Dentists recommend drinking tap water over bottled water because it helps to remove the plaque that gets stuck in your teeth. This, in turn, saves you from spending money to get rid of the tartar buildup in your mouth.

Does tap water have more fluoride than bottled water? ›

For this reason, many residents choose not to drink or cook with local tap water (25). Bottled water typically contains significantly less fluoride (1, 17), thus increasing dental carie risk.

Does Aquafina have fluoride in it? ›

We do not add anything to Aquafina purified water. Our purification process removes all but a trace amount of any dissolved solids or ions, including fluoride, that might be present in the original water source.

Are Brita filters good? ›

Brita claims that its products can remove up to 99% of certain water contaminants, such as lead. A 2020 study found that carbon filters — which many Brita filters use — effectively reduced lead contamination in water to safe levels. However, each Brita filter will work to reduce a different range of contaminants.

What does Brita not filter? ›

For example, the Brita water filter pitcher uses a coconut-based activated carbon filter that removes chlorine, zinc, copper, cadmium and mercury. However, activated carbon filters don't remove all nitrates, dissolved minerals, or bacteria and viruses in water through the absorption process.

Is tap water safe to drink? ›

Tap water that's been properly filtered is equally safe as bottled water and provides you with essential minerals you may not get from bottled water. Even though it's usually safe to drink tap water, it's still a good idea to keep an eye out for local water advisories in your area.

Which toothpaste contains most fluoride? ›

Which Toothpastes Have The Highest Fluoride Content? Colgate® PreviDent® 5000 Booster Plus (1.1% Sodium Fluoride) Prescription Strength Toothpaste is among the highest fluoridated toothpastes available. You can only get it by having your dentist put in a prescription.

When should you start using fluoride toothpaste? ›

Therefore, CDC recommends that children begin using fluoride toothpaste at age 2 years.

What is fluoride made of? ›

Fluoride is created when salts from the element fluorine combine with minerals in soil or rocks. Fluoride is found naturally in soil, water, and many foods, and occurs naturally in the human body in bones and teeth.

What toothpaste strengthens teeth enamel? ›

Sensodyne Pronamel works by repairing tooth enamel and remineralizing each tooth deep within its surface, to protect from further damage and acid erosion.

Can you rebuild enamel without fluoride? ›

Tooth enamel is the hardest tissue in the body. Problem is, it's not living tissue, so it can't be naturally regenerated. Unfortunately, you can't regrow it artificially, either -- not even with those special toothpastes.

How can I strengthen my enamel? ›

Eat More Enamel-Strengthening Foods

High-calcium foods both neutralize the acid that harms enamel and can help add minerals back into tooth surfaces. As the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests, dairy products are a great calcium source, but many vegetables also are calcium-rich.

What did people use before toothpaste? ›

Often, they would use water and a rough cloth, scrubbing their teeth. Salt and charcoal were often rubbed across the teeth and then rinsed away. However, the most common way of taking care of teeth involved taking a birch twig and fraying the end, making a primitive brush. Dental powders were also used.

Is dry brushing your teeth good for you? ›

'Dry brushing' — the act of brushing the teeth without toothpaste — has been found to be more effective for removing plaque than brushing with toothpaste, according to the study. In fact, 128 participants who tried dry-brushing for six months saw a 67% reduction in plaque buildup.

Is brushing your teeth with water better than nothing? ›

Or rinse your mouth with water. In fact, it is better to brush your teeth without water. It is better for your enamel and gums not to rinse extra with water.

What does fluoride poisoning feel like? ›

In the case of acute fluoride toxicity, one or a combination of the following symptoms such as gastric disturbances (nausea, vomiting occasionally with blood, abdominal pain, diarrhea, weakness, and hypocalcemia) are observed.

Does fluoride make you tired? ›

Water fluoride levels were not significantly associated with sleeping more than the recommended amount, frequency of trouble sleeping, or frequency of daytime sleepiness.

Does fluoride make your teeth yellow? ›

Fluorosis: Fluoride is good for teeth, but excess fluoride can cause yellow or brownish yellow spots called fluorosis. Fluoridated water, fluoride toothpaste and prescribed fluoride tablets and treatments are your biggest sources of fluoride.

What is the antidote for fluoride? ›

No antidote for fluoride toxicity exists, and activated charcoal does not adsorb fluoride. Electrolytes may be used to correct imbalances resulting from fluoride toxicity.

Why do people want fluoride free? ›

Why Use Fluoride-Free Toothpaste? In general, dentists dissuade patients from using fluoride-free toothpaste due to the mineral's effects on long-term tooth health. Yet select consumers may request a fluoride-free toothpaste if they: Have a fluoride allergy or experienced dental fluorosis.

Do older adults need fluoride? ›

Benefits of Fluoride

As you get older, you become more susceptible to certain dental conditions, such as gum disease or tooth and root decay. Fluoride treatments can help to strengthen and protect your teeth, preventing your need for invasive and expensive procedures in the future.

Does coffee contain fluoride? ›

Coffee is a rich source of dietary antioxidants, and this property links with the fact that coffee is one of the world's most popular beverages. Moreover, it is a source of macro- and microelements, including fluoride.

Does Brita remove fluoride? ›

The three types of filters that can remove fluoride are reverse osmosis, deionizers (which use ion-exchange resins), and activated alumina. Each of these filters should be able to remove about 90% of the fluoride. By contrast, “activated carbon” filters (e.g., Brita & Pur) do not remove fluoride.

Can fluoride cause behavior changes? ›

Fluoride exposure has also been linked to increased excitement in the hippocampus, impaired memory, anxiety-like behavior, and depression-like behavior in adult mice [49,50]. This may be due to the passage of fluoride through the blood–brain barrier, causing maladaptive changes to the hippocampus [45].

Can fluoride increase blood pressure? ›

Fluoride has also been related to increased blood pressure and risk of hypertension in humans (Amini et al., 2011, Sun et al., 2013, Yousefi et al., 2018).


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