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Fluoride

Fluoride is a mineral that helps protect our teeth from decay. It strengthens the tooth surface, fights the bacteria that cause cavities and helps repair the early stages of tooth decay.

Looking after your teeth is important – dental pain can affect your wellbeing, limit what you can eat, interrupt your sleep and reduce your productivity at work. Decayed teeth or bad breath can also lower your self-esteem and confidence.

How much fluoride do we need?

 

 Age (years)

AI* Fluoride (mg/day)

Infants7-12 months

0.5
Children1-4

0.7
4-8

1
9-13

2
Teenagers14-18

3
Men19-70+

4
Women19-70+

3
Pregnant and breastfeeding women

14-50

3

Who needs more and why?

Children in areas with non-fluoridated water will have lower levels of fluoride available for the development and protection of their teeth. Fluoride tablets are available – speak to your doctor or dentist to find out which ones they recommend for your area.

Which foods contain fluoride?

Fluoride in the water supply and dental products, such as fluoride toothpaste, are the major source of fluoride in the diet

Fluoride and dental care

Adults should use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste containing 1,000 ppm of fluoride. Younger children should only use a smear (a small amount) of adult toothpaste on a small brush. You should also discourage children from swallowing or eating toothpaste.

Too much fluoride can cause discolouration and crumbling of teeth, also changes in bones – speak to your doctor or dentist before taking fluoride supplements.

More info

Ministry of Health Fluoride and oral health

Last modified: July 18, 2022