Fluoride Recommendations and Preventing Tooth Decay

Fluoride is a naturally occurring substance. Fluoride helps to strengthen the hard outer layer of teeth called enamel. When teeth are stronger they are less likely to get cavities.

Fluoride can be found in many sources, including:

  • Naturally-occurring in well water
  • In certain foods we eat and beverages we drink
  • In most brands of children and adult toothpastes
  • As a varnish, gel, foam, or liquid rinse that a dental professional may apply
  • As a daily or weekly rinse, a lozenge, or a daily supplement found at the drug store
  • Added to some municipal drinking water (water fluoridation)

Fluoride is not added to Niagara's Drinking Water

Niagara Region has not added fluoride to its drinking water since 1999. However, fluoride is naturally found in the soil and water.

The 2009 Annual Water Quality Reports for the Niagara Region show naturally occurring fluoride levels from a minimum of 0.09 mg/L (Port Colborne plant) to a maximum of 0.14 mg/L (Decew plant that serves Lincoln, Niagara-on-the-Lake, St. Catharines, and Thorold).

Fluoride in Well Water

Fluoride levels in well water can vary considerably. Well owners may test their well water for fluoride. To determine your well water fluoride levels, have your well water tested.

The levels of fluoride in Niagara drinking water are too low to prevent cavities. Therefore, it is recommended that all residents brush their teeth twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste to prevent cavities based on the guidelines below.

Guidelines - Using Fluoride Products to Prevent Tooth Decay

Fluoride Toothpaste

Rice grain sized portion of toothpaste on a child's toothbrush on the left and pea-sized portion of toothpaste on the right

A rice grain sized portion of toothpaste on a child's toothbrush is shown on the left. A pea-sized portion of toothpaste is shown on the right. Image and text Copyright © 2008 Canadian Dental Association

  • Toothpaste with fluoride should be used twice a day.

  • Children less than three years should have their teeth brushed by an adult, using a rice grain sized portion of fluoridated toothpaste until the child can effectively spit out.

  • Once a child can spit out (usually three years of age), they should be supervised using no more than a pea-sized portion of fluoridated toothpaste.

  • Too much fluoride from any source, including toothpaste, can cause dental fluorosis. Fluorosis is a cosmetic condition that appears as white chalky spots on the tooth surface. That is why it is important to use the appropriate amount of toothpaste for a person's age. Your dentist can provide you with more information on how much toothpaste is right for you.

  • Parents/caregivers with children six years and younger should apply the recommended amount of toothpaste to the toothbrush and supervise to ensure proper brushing.

Fluoride Mouth Rinses

  • Fluoride mouth rinses can prevent cavities for people at high risk of cavities.
  • Not recommended for children under 6 years of age.
  • Talk to your dental professional to determine if they are appropriate for you.

Fluoride Varnish / Topical Fluoride

Fluoride Supplements

  • Fluoride supplements come in chewable tablets, lozenges or drops and should only be used by people who have a high risk of developing dental decay.
  • Talk to a dental professional before taking any fluoride supplements.

More Information on Fluoride:

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