For decades, fluoride has been held in high regard by the dental community as an important mineral that strengthens tooth enamel, which thereby helps to prevent decay of tooth structures.
Water fluoridation is endorsed by nearly every major health and safety-related organization in the world. Communities make it a common practice to "fluoridate" their drinking supplies in order for the general population to benefit from this inexpensive and effective preventative treatment. Fluorides are used by communities as a public health measure to adjust the concentration of fluoride in drinking water to an optimum level (water fluoridation); by individuals in the form of toothpastes, rinses; and by the dental profession in the professional application of gels, foams and varnishes.
The Canadian Dental Association supports the appropriate use of fluorides in dentistry as one of the most successful preventive health measures in the history of health care. Over 50 years of extensive research throughout the world has consistently demonstrated the safety and effectiveness of fluorides in the prevention of dental caries.
Bottled water, home water treatment systems, and fluoride exposure
Can the consistent use of bottled water result in individuals missing the benefits of optimally fluoridated water? Can home water treatment systems (e.g., water filters) affect optimally fluoridated water supplies? The answer is yes to both. Fluorides are found naturally throughout the world and are present, to some extent, in all food and water so that all humans ingest some fluoride on a daily basis. The CDA supports fluoridation of municipal drinking water (at minimum levels required for efficacy as recommended by the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Drinking Water) as a safe, effective and economical means of preventing dental caries in all age groups. Fluoride levels in water supplies should be carefully monitored and adjusted to ensure consistency in concentrations and to avoid fluctuations.
Fluoridated Toothpastes and Mouth Rinses
The Canadian Dental Association recognizes and supports the use of fluoridated toothpastes and mouth rinses in the prevention of dental caries. Fluoridated toothpastes should be used twice a day to brush teeth. Because young children tend to swallow toothpaste when they are brushing, which may increase their exposure to fluoride; it is important for adults to closely monitor their children as they brush their teeth in order to moderate their risk of developing dental fluorosis while optimizing the benefits of fluoride. Children from birth to 3 years of age should have their teeth and gums brushed by an adult in order to prevent the risks of over-fluoridating. Fluoride rinses are also an effective preventive measure for at risk individuals and should be used according to the specific needs of the individual and is not recommended for children under 6 years of age.
The availability of fluorides from a variety of sources must be taken into account before beginning a specific course of fluoride delivery to either populations or individual patients. According to the Canadian Dental Association, this is particularly important for children under the age of six. A child may face a condition called enamel fluorosis if he or she receives too much fluoride during the years of tooth development. Too much fluoride can result in defects in tooth enamel. Provided that the total daily intake of fluoride is carefully monitored, fluoride is considered to be an important health measure in maintaining oral health for all Canadians.