Fluoride

What is fluoride?

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. 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.

What is fluoride used to treat?

  • Tooth decay
  • Cavities
  • Oral health
Common brands containing fluoride:
  • ACT®
  • Aim®
  • Aquafresh®
  • Colgate®
  • Crest®
  • LISTERINE®
  • Mentadent®
  • Oral-B®
  • REMBRANDT®
  • Sensodyne®
  • Store Brands (ex. Walmart’s “Equate” store brand or CVS Health store brand)

How much fluoride can you take?

If more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.

Safety guide for fluoride

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.

Safe use tips:

  • Adults and children should brush their teeth with an anti-cavity paste or gel at least twice a day, or as directed by a dentist or healthcare provider.
  • It is important to use the proper amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Use a smear or a grain-of-rice sized amount for children under three years old, or a pea-sized amount after age three.
  • You should avoid swallowing anti-cavity mouthwash and rinse products.
  • 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.
  • Do not use in children under the age of 2 unless you talk to a dentist or doctor.

Stop use and ask a doctor if:

  • You have tooth sensitivity that lasts or gets worse.
  • If more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.

What are the side effects of fluoride?

  • If your teeth are sensitive after using fluoride, this may be a sign of a serious problem that requires prompt care.
  • Products containing stannous fluoride may create staining on the teeth, which is not harmful and may be removed by a dentist.