Water, Fluoride and Preventing Tooth Decay

A reliable cavity-fighter is as close as your kitchen faucet



Fluoride is an important dental tool that can slow or even reverse tooth decay. Your oral hygiene habits, diet and how often you visit the dentist usually determines how much fluoride you need. Main sources of fluoride include:

  • Water
  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Food
  • Professional dental products


The link between water, fluoride and cavities

Fluoride is found naturally in water. But in the 1940s, scientists discovered that adding more fluoride to community water sources significantly reduced cavities. But not every community fluoridates its water supply the same way—if at all.


Getting the right amount of fluoride

Contact your public water company and ask what level of fluoride is in the water. Or, if you have a well or spring, a simple test can reveal the water's natural fluoride content. If you drink a lot of bottled or filtered water, contact the bottler for information.

Bottled water and fluoride

It’s up to bottled-water companies to add fluoride to their products. Some do, some don’t. If you primarily drink bottled water and don’t get enough fluoride from other sources, you may be at a higher risk for cavities than if you drank fluoridated tap water alone.


Did you know...

Since World War II, water fluoridation is credited with reducing tooth decay by 50% - 60% in the U.S.

- American Dental Hygienists Association, “Fluoride Facts”

Excess fluoride can be harmful

People who drink large amounts of fluoridated water may be getting too much fluoride. Lack of fluoride can lead to tooth decay, but too much fluoride can cause fluorosis. The main symptom of mild fluorosis is white spots on the teeth. Severe cases can turn teeth brown and weaken enamel.


Talk to your dentist about fluoride

Age plays a major factor in determining how much fluoride you need and recommended treatment plans. Tell your dentist how much water you drink each day. Your dentist will be able to recommend the appropriate course of action based on your conversation.


WATCH: Learn why fluoride is a safe, effective way to fight cavities in our quick video




Get more expert oral health advice:

How to eat your way to a healthier mouth

Why soft drinks are so hard on your teeth

Crrrrrunch! How chewing ice can lead to a big, cold dental bill 

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