A  A  A   Print
FluorideFluoruro

Fluoride

What is fluoride?

The fluoride ion comes from the element fluorine. Fluoride, either applied topically to erupted teeth, or ingested orally (called systemic fluoride) during tooth development, helps to prevent tooth decay, strengthen tooth enamel, and reduce the harmful effects of plaque. Fluoride also makes the entire tooth structure more resistant to decay and promotes remineralization, which aids in repairing early decay before the damage is even visible.

Where is fluoride found?

Topical Fluoride

  • Found in products containing strong concentrations of fluoride (i.e., tooth pastes, mouth rinses)

  • Fluoridated varnishes and/or gels either topically applied by a dentist or other oral health professional, or prescribed as an at-home regimen (particularly for persons with a high risk of dental caries)

Systemic Fluoride

  • Public and private water supplies

  • Soft drinks

  • Teas

  • As dietary supplements

  • Some bottled water supplies

Once ingested, systemic fluoride is absorbed via the gastrointestinal tract and distributed and deposited throughout the body via the blood supply.

What health risks are associated with fluoride use?

Picture of a young girl during a visit to her dentist

In general, fluoride consumption is safe. Health risks associated with fluoridation are usually limited to misuse and over concentration. To avoid misuse and over concentration:

  • Avoid drinking overly fluoridated water - results of this may cause teeth to become discolored, and may cause the enamel of the teeth to look spotted, pitted, or stained (a condition known as dental fluorosis).

  • Avoid swallowing toothpaste and other dental hygiene products.

  • Call the local water department and/or the health department to evaluate the fluoride level in your local drinking reservoir.

Children are especially vulnerable to dental fluorosis as their developing teeth are more sensitive to higher fluoride levels. Dental fluorosis is not a disease, but rather how the teeth appear. The American Dental Association defines mild enamel fluorosis as barely noticeable, faint, white lines or streaks on tooth enamel. The discoloration does not affect the teeth's health or function. Fluorosis only occurs in developing teeth, not those that have already erupted. Consult a pediatric dentist or other oral health care professional if you notice changes in the condition of your child's teeth.

 
Related Items

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.