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Fluoride Introduction

Regarding preventative health measures, flouride may be among the most popular and successful of all of the trace minerals. The roles of fluoride in recent decades have lead to findings concerning its ability to provide a reduction of tooth decay in both children and adults. In the elderly, fluoride has even been shown to repair the early stages of tooth decay and its many related conditions. If persons receive the proper dietary intake of fluoride (see dosage section), this mineral may provide major benefits in the prevention and management of dental caries (tooth and bone decay); by an estimated 50 - 60%, especially in children. [1]

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral. Certain elements are needed to produce the available form of fluoride for use in human health. Its bioavailability is directly dependent upon the synergistic effect of the element fluorine and other naturally occurring elements found in the fluoride compound of many dietary sources.

Acid attacks, resulting from the consumption of carbohydrates, upon tooth structure are of great concern in the prevention of tooth decay and decay-related problems. Cavities are formed when bacteria in the mouth form plaque and cause a break down in tooth structure. This usually results in persons developing cavities, or in more extreme cases, the tooth decay. To prevent this degradation, fluoride is used as an acidic buffer in our mouths. It repairs and remineralizes teeth undergoing acid attacks from bacterial plaque. Fluoride assists us in developing a resistant tooth surface, and also reverses the early decay of teeth.

There are three main sources of fluoride consumed in our diet that provide a defensive mechanism against the harmful bacteria found in plaque. These are:

  • Topical Fluorides: Mouth rinses and toothpastes are the main sources of this category. Professionally applied fluoride therapies are also available to strengthen teeth and to make teeth more decay resistant.
  • Systematic Fluorides: The most popular form; found in abundance in tap water. Systematic flourides are controlled through community water fluoridation. Community water fluoridation refers to the adjustment of the amount of fluoride in a given water source. Fluoride is found in all water sources, but amounts are regulated to prevent dental deficiencies. This source is the most inexpensive means in preventing the effects of tooth decay, and associated irregular conditions of both tooth and tooth enamel. The concentration of 0.7 - 1.2 parts fluoride per million provides for optimal dental health and is efficient at minimizing dental fluorosis. [2]
  • Dietary Fluoride Supplements: These supplements are only available to the public by dental practitioners. This type of supplementation is usually given to children and adolescents ages 6 to 16 years of age in non-fluoridated areas. Dietary fluoride supplementation is not recommended for those living where fluoride is readily available in municipal water sources.

Fluoride Food Sources

The majority of fluoride consumed in one’s diet resides in foods prepared with fluorinated water, or from water sources themselves. Seafoods also contains abundant amounts of fluoride in the form of sodium chloride. Fluoride may also be found in certain teas and gelatin. Because sources of fluoride are minimal, a food graph is omitted.

Fluoride Uses

As previously mentioned, fluoride is primarily used to prevent the occurrence of tooth decay in both children and adults. This mineral protects dental structures from decay and caries, not only of the teeth, but also the many bone structures located throughout the body. Fluoride may also reduce and treat the onset of bone-related diseases.

Lower doses of fluoride (in the form of fluoride salts) may also assist in the body’s ability to maintain bone mineral density. It is suggested that flouride plays an integral role in not only maintaining the mineral density of bone, but also within the hardening of skeletal structures, when it is incorporated into diet. Studies have also indicated the probability of flouride decreasing the likelihood of developing osteoporosis in older populations that live in areas of fluorinated water. [3]

“Fluoride has been shown to have a profound effect on osteoblasts and bone formation. Studies have shown that synthetic fluorapatitie is more stable and less soluble than hydroxyapatite.” [4]

Fluoride Dosages

There are no specific recommended dietary allowances (RDA) set forth for fluoride intake. There have, however, been estimated safe and adequate dietary intake guidelines for fluoride consumption. This is considered the minimal amount needed to prevent dental complications These guidelines are divided into four separate categories; infants, children, adolescents, and adults.

Age (months) Infants
0-6 months 0.1 to 0.5 milligrams/day
6 months-1year .02 to 1.0 milligrams/day

Age (years) Children
1-3 0.5 to 1.5 milligrams/day
4-6 1.0 to 2.5 milligrams/day
7-10 1.5 to 2.5 milligrams

Age (years) Adolescents
11 + 1.5 to 2.5 milligrams/day

Age (years) Adults
Over 12 years 1.5 to 4.0 milligrams/day

Fluoride Toxicities and Deficiencies

Fluoride Deficiencies

Fluoride deficiencies are rare where there is adequate fluoridation of water supplies. Signs and symptoms of deficiencies may appear as, increased cavities in both children and adults, and the vulnerability/instability of both tooth and bone structure(s).

Fluoride Toxicity

Chronic dental fluorosis is the number one sign of the excess consumption of fluoride. [5] This disease is characterized by hypoplasia - a condition of arrested development in which an organ or part of the body remains below the normal size, or in an immature state; primarily concerning dental structure and dental health. Research indicates that hypoplasia may be directly caused by excessive intakes of fluoride during the years of tooth calcification/development of tooth structures. The severity of this condition is based upon the amount of excessive fluoride ingested during these periods of growth.

The mottling of tooth enamel is another toxicity related condition. This results from the long-term consumption of fluoride during the typical formation of enamel. Signs of this condition include; fine white lines in the enamel and severe chalky formations on the base of the tooth. Opaque enamel will eventually break apart after the eruption of teeth as a result of this type of overdose.


1. Limeback H, Ismail A, Banting D, DenBesten P, Feathersome J, Riordan PJ. Canadian Consensus Conference on the appropriate use of fluoride supplements for the prevention of dental caries in children. J Can Dent Assoc 1998; 64:636-9.

2. Review of water fluoridation and fluoride intake from discretionary fluoride supplements. Review for the National Health and Medical Research Council by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology-Key Centre for Applied and Nutritional Toxicology in conjunction with the Monash University Medical School’s Centre for Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine. Melbourne. 15 April 1999.

3. Herbert, Victor. “Vitamins and Minerals Plus Antioxidant Supplements” Total Nutrition Ed. Victor Herbert, M.D., Genell J. Subak-Sharpe, M.S. New York: Saint Martin’s Griffin, 1995. 94-118.

4. Bone Miner. 5: 1, 1988 Oct 1-9.

5. Mason J. A message to health professionals about fluorosis. JAMA 1991, Vol 266, No 22.