Most Australians today have access to fluoride in tap water and toothpaste, which has proven to help lower the rate of tooth decay, cavities and oral health problems.
The levels of fluoride added to local water supplies are safe and effective for all ages, but consuming excessive amounts can cause small white specks to form on the teeth. Fluoride toothpaste is not recommended for children aged less than 18 months.
Find out more about why fluoride is good for your family's oral health and how to make sure you're getting enough of it.
Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in the ground, rocks, crops and in most sources of freshwater and saltwater. The low concentration of fluoride in the environment is not sufficient on its own to protect the teeth.
Fluoridation is the process of adding supplemental fluoride to local water supplies at safe, optimum levels to promote dental health. It's also included in most toothpastes, mouthwashes and other dental products at higher concentrations, as these are not intended to be ingested.
Fluoride can help to strengthen teeth at all ages by remineralising the enamel (the hard, outer surface of teeth). This makes teeth more resistant to acid produced by plaque and can also slow down the spread of bacteria and plaque in the mouth. This helps to protect the teeth against decay and cavities.
Fluoride can also combine with enamel while children's teeth are still developing, making them stronger for life.
The most common sources of fluoride are:
As well as regular brushing and flossing, following a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water are important parts of good oral hygiene.
Extensive scientific research has clearly shown that the amount of fluoride in drinking water poses no risk to people’s health. While uncommon, consuming too much fluoride in childhood can sometimes cause fluorosis, a cosmetic condition which results in white specks appearing on the teeth. This is unlikely to happen from drinking fluoridated water, but it can occur if young children use adult-strength toothpaste.
Fluoride levels in water supplies are carefully maintained at safe levels for human consumption. In Australia, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) recommends concentrations between 0.6mg and 1.1mg per litre.
Multiple studies conducted over many decades have confirmed that water fluoridation is a safe and cost-effective way of improving oral health and reducing tooth decay in the community. Australians who were born after fluoridation was widely implemented in the 1970s have around half the level of tooth decay compared to the previous generation.
Has it been over 6 months since your last dental visit? Schedule an appointment at Sydney CBD Dental so our dentists can check your teeth, give you a professional clean and apply fluoride to help protect and strengthen your teeth against decay.
Call us today on (02) 9232 3900 or make an online appointment.
 Australian Dental Association (ADA). Fluoride (31-64yrs) - Your Dental Health [Online] 2016 [Accessed May 2018] Available from: https://www.ada.org.au/Your-Dental-Health/Adults-31-64/Fluoride
 Australian Dental Association (ADA). Fluoride [Online] 2017 [Accessed May 2018] Available from: https://www.ada.org.au/News-Media/Issues-at-a-Glance/Fluoride
 National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Water fluoridation and human health in Australia [Online] 2018 [Accessed May 2018] Available from: https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/health-topics/health-effects-water-fluoridation