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Fluoride is a mineral that is found naturally in food and water. It has been used to improve dental health and bone strength. Fluoride can be used as a toothpaste or mouth rinse.


No more than 10 mg should be taken per day. D1

What Research Shows

Likely Effective

  • Cavity prevention —likely to prevent cavity formation A1-A9

Not Enough Data to Assess

  • Osteoporosis B1
  • Tooth sensitivity C1

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe to use fluoride in small doses for a short time. High doses may cause muscle and nerve problems and changes in tooth color in children. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to use for a long period.D1, D2


Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.



A. Cavity Prevention

A1. Tubert-Jeannin S, Auclair C, et al. Fluoride supplements (tablets, drops, lozenges or chewing gums) for preventing dental caries in children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Dec 7;(12):CD007592.

A2. Santos AP, Oliveira BH, et al. Effects of low and standard fluoride toothpastes on caries and fluorosis: systematic review and meta-analysis. Caries Res. 2013;47(5):382-390.

A3. Benson PE, Parkin N, et al. Fluorides for the prevention of early tooth decay (demineralised white lesions) during fixed brace treatment. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Dec 12;(12):CD003809.

A4. Schwendicke F, Jäger AM, et al. Treating pit-and-fissure caries: a systematic review and network meta-analysis. J Dent Res. 2015 Apr;94(4):522-533.

A5. Marinho VC, Worthington HV, et al. Fluoride gels for preventing dental caries in children and adolescents. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Jun 15;(6):CD002280.

A6. Lenzi TL, Montagner AF, et al. Are topical fluorides effective for treating incipient carious lesions?: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Am Dent Assoc. 2016 Feb;147(2):84-91.e1.

A7. Marinho VC, Chong LY, et al. Fluoride mouthrinses for preventing dental caries in children and adolescents. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Jul 29;7:CD002284.

A8. Singh A, Purohit BM. Caries Preventive Effects of High-fluoride vs Standard-fluoride Toothpastes-A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Oral Health Prev Dent. 2018;16(4):307-314.

A9. Walsh T, Worthington HV, et al. Fluoride toothpastes of different concentrations for preventing dental caries. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2019;3:CD007868.

B. Osteoporosis

B1. Vestergaard P, Jorgensen NR, et al. Effects of treatment with fluoride on bone mineral density and fracture risk—a meta-analysis. Osteoporos Int. 2008;19(3):257-268.

C. Tooth Sensitivity

C1. Bae JH, Kim YK, et al. Desensitizing toothpaste versus placebo for dentin hypersensitivity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Periodontol. 2015 Feb;42(2):131-141.

C2. Wang Y, Gao J, et al. Evaluation of the efficacy of potassium nitrate and sodium fluoride as desensitizing agents during tooth bleaching treatment—A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Dent. 2015 Aug;43(8):913-923.

C3. Yang S, Ying K, et al. [Desensitizing effects of stannous fluoride-containing toothpaste for patients with dentine hypersensitivity: a Meta-analysis]. Hua Xi Kou Qiang Yi Xue Za Zhi. 2016;34(2):150-155.

D. Safety

D1. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine website. Available at: Published 1997. Accessed September 16, 2019.

D2. Wong MC, Glenny AM, et al. Topical fluoride as a cause of dental fluorosis in children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Jan 20;(1):CD007693.

Last reviewed July 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC  Last Updated: 5/6/2020