Fluoride – who cares? Your teeth!

Fluoride and your teeth.

Corporal Erika Johnson, Dental Technician, 1 Dental Unit Detachment Esquimalt — Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral and the 13th most common element in the Earth’s crust. It plays an essential part in good oral health and prevents cavities.

While some communities add fluoride to their drinking water, others rely on its naturally occurring levels and increasing education on oral health to combat dental decay. The question is: why does this matter to you?

British Columbia is one of the provinces that does not add fluoride to the water supply. Therefore, your oral health routine may need adjustment if you are posted in from a community that does.

Health Canada and The World Health Organization have supported adding 0.7 mg/L of fluoride to community water supplies for over 70 years. Consumption of fluoride-treated water has been associated with a 25-30 per cent decrease in the rates of dental decay in adults and children.

“The rate of tooth decay (in permanent teeth) has declined in Canada from 74 per cent of children in 1970-1972 to less than 25 per cent in 2007-2009 as a result of a variety of factors, including widespread adoption of community water fluoridation,” announced the Office of the Chief Dental Officer of Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada in 2022.

However, is it possible to have too much of a good thing? Overexposure to fluoride during development can cause discolouration in unerupted teeth. This discolouration is called fluorosis and presents as bright white patches on the teeth once they have erupted. In addition, quantities of 5g or more fluoride can cause health issues. Typically, fluoride poisoning symptoms include nausea, indigestion, hypocalcemia, and respiratory issues.

Before you run home and throw out all your toothpaste, let’s break this down. The average 130g tube of toothpaste has 143 milligrams of fluoride. You would have to eat 35 tubes of toothpaste to reach toxic levels, which seems unrealistic and unappetizing. The most common cases of fluoride poisoning occur in children under the age of six, as they are more likely to ingest toothpaste and not spit it out, as recommended.

If you have questions about whether you should supplement your household fluoride consumption, your dentist is the best place to start. 1 Dental Unit is committed to the education of all the members of the CAF. Our focus is on prevention, and that starts with patient education.


Fluoride is an integral part of strengthening the enamel layer of your teeth and helps prevent decay caused by demineralization. In most cases, fluoride has been shown to prevent the progression of early cavities. Trace amounts can be found in food, water and even the air we breathe.

Geographical location plays a large part in the levels of environmental fluoride you consume. For instance, Pakistan has a water source that contains fluoride levels as high as 21 ppm (parts per million) which far exceeds the recommended 0.7 ppm.

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