Why fluoride is important for teeth

Fluoride. We’ve all heard of it. We know it’s in toothpaste - but that’s about it. Perhaps you’re confused about what it is, whether you need it, why you need it and how you get the right amount. If so, you’re in the right place - we’ve got the skinny on fluoride so your teeth can stay healthy and happy.

Fluoride is a natural mineral found in many foods and in drinking water. It can strengthen the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to tooth decay, and reduces the amount of acid that the bacteria on your teeth produce.

Plaque is a thin sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth. Children who have fluoride when their teeth are developing tend to have shallower grooves in their teeth, so plaque can be more easily removed.

Fluoride in water

Fluoride is often added to water supplies, but the amount varies according to the area you live in. Your local water supplier can tell you how much fluoride is in your drinking water. Some water has natural fluoride, but this is rarely at a high enough level to be enough for your teeth.

Getting enough fluoride

Most people get fluoride through their toothpaste. Most toothpastes contain fluoride and this is an effective method to prevent tooth decay. In areas where the water supply has fluoride added, fluoride toothpaste gives extra protection.

The level of fluoride you need varies according to your age, which is why children need to have specific toothpastes for their age. The fluoride requirements by age are:

Children up to three years: at least 1000ppm (parts per million)
Children over three years: 1350 - 1500ppm

Parents should supervise their children’s tooth brushing until you are sure your child is cleaning regularly and thoroughly enough.

Spit toothpaste out after brushing but do not rinse, so the fluoride remains on your teeth for longer. 

Is fluoride safe?

There are some concerns about whether fluoride is safe and if we should be switching to fluoride-free toothpaste. There is no research to support these concerns and studies have not found that fluoride added to water has a harmful impact.

Many studies have proven fluoride to be safe. No studies have supported claims that fluoride in water is harmful. Most people use fluoride toothpastes regularly and worldwide over 300 million people drink fluoridated water supplies. This has, overall, led to improved levels of dental health.

Scientific studies have actually proven that fluoride toothpaste and correctly fluoridated water, salt and milk are of great benefit to dental health, help to reduce decay, and cause no harmful side effects to general health.

Are there any side effects of fluoride?

Dental fluorosis is common in children under 8. The most common symptoms of it are:

  • Brown spots on tooth enamel
  • Pitting of the enamel
  • Permanent damage to the tooth enamel

It is a change to the appearance of tooth enamel caused by excess exposure to fluoride. In its mildest form, it appears as very fine pearly white lines or flecking on the surface of the teeth. Severe fluorosis - which is rare - may lead to the enamel becoming pitted and discoloured.

Our top tips

Our advice is to continue using products that deliver the correct amount of fluoride. Our range of toothpastes contain fluoride and include age-appropriate options to keep your kids’ teeth happy and healthy.

Once you’ve finished brushing your teeth, remember to spit out excess toothpaste and to not rinse your mouth out with water.

Continue to drink plenty of tap water to give your fluoride levels a natural boost and to keep you hydrated and healthy, without reaching for sugary drinks.