Insights & Actions for Healthy Living

Is there fluoride in food that helps to prevent cavities?

Fluoride is an important mineral that helps prevent tooth decay by stimulating new bone growth throughout our lifetimes so it is important for children and adults to get enough fluoride.

Fluoride is most commonly found in drinking water that is fluoridated as well as other products such as toothpaste. Fluoride is found in very few foods and the quantities present are very small. If children have limited access to fluoride, the American Dental Association recommends fluoride supplements.

Not all city water systems fluoridate tap water but nearly two-thirds do so. The American Dental Association endorses fluoridated water to prevent dental caries in kids and adults.

If you have well water or filter your tap water, you and your family may not be getting enough fluoride.  If you filter your tap water, there are three kinds of water filters that potentially will remove the fluoride – reverse osmosis, deionizers and activated alumina. Water filters for the home have the seal of the American Dental Association if they do not filter out fluoride.

If your city does not fluoridate your water or you use a well, in order for your children (and the rest of the family) to get adequate fluoride to improve their dental health, you might opt to give them fluoridated bottle water to be sure they are getting enough fluoride each day.

Did you know that bottled water can be purchased either with or without fluoride?

Bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as a food product and therefore complies with food labeling regulations. A bottle that has fluoride will be labeled fluoridated, fluoride added or fluoride enhanced so you will know which product meets your needs.

As with many nutrients, too much can be harmful. Excess fluoride can lead to a condition called fluorosis which can cause stains on your teeth, nausea, abdominal pain and vomiting due to toxicity.

Recommendations for adequate intake are expressed in milligrams/day:

Ages:                     1-3 years need .07 mg

                                4-8 years need 1 mg

                                9-13 years need 2 mgs

                                14-18 years need 3 mgs

                                19 and older men need 4 mgs, women need 3 mgs

Pregnant and lactating women should be sure to get adequate fluoride to help babies tooth and bone development.

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