Fluoride is an anti-cavity active ingredient available in over-the-counter (OTC) products that help prevent tooth decay and cavities (also known as caries), such as toothpastes, mouthwashes, and rinses. The most commonly used types of fluoride are sodium fluoride, sodium monofluorophosphate, and stannous fluoride.
Fluoride can be the only active ingredient in an anti-cavity medicine or it can be found in medicines that contain additional active ingredients that address other oral health issues, such as plaque, gingivitis, and tooth sensitivity.
Fluoride is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is safe and effective when used according to the Drug Facts label. Parents and caregivers should supervise young children to ensure they develop good teeth brushing and rinsing habits and avoid swallowing fluoride-containing medicines. Young children who swallow too much fluoride could develop dental fluorosis, which results in a permanent white staining on the teeth.