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Fluoride and Dental Health

Fluoride (said as floor eye ) is a mineral found naturally in soil, water and air that has been shown to prevent cavities or tooth decay. In recent decades, fluoride has been added to water supplies and oral care products such as toothpaste and mouthwash. Fluoride works by strengthening the hard outer surface of the tooth called enamel.

You can get fluoride by drinking tap water in communities where the public water system adds fluoride and by using fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash, as well as certain foods and drinks. In the dental office, a dentist can apply fluoride varnish or gel, and in some public health programs, children can have children apply fluoride varnish to their teeth.

Fluoride can prevent tooth decay for life; both children and adults benefit.

Helpful Hints

  • Find the amount of fluoride in your community water by contacting your local water company. While some bottled waters contain the recommended amount of fluoride, many don't. If you have spring water, it should be tested for fluoride concentration. Your dentist or local health department may be able to assist you.
  • Brush with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day, floss regularly, and see a dentist for routine checkups.
  • Ask your child's dentist or doctor about the use of fluoride toothpaste. Do not use fluoride toothpaste on children under the age of 2 unless recommended by a dentist or doctor.

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