Fluoride is a trace element found widely in the environment. It's in all animals and plants and in water. Very small amounts are also in the air we breathe.

Good food sources include tea and fish. Drinking water can be a rich source and we also take in some fluoride when we use products such as toothpaste and mouthwash with added fluoride.

How much do I need?

It isn't clear how much fluoride we need for good health. But fluoride can help dental health by strengthening tooth enamel, which helps protect against tooth decay.

What does it do?

Fluoride has two main functions. It:

  • contributes to the formation of strong teeth
  • increases resistance to tooth decay

What is our advice?

It isn't clear how much fluoride we need for good health. In some parts of the UK, fluoride is added to drinking water to improve dental health.

The Department of Health and The British Dental Association recommend that fluoride should be added to tap water, but it's up to individual local health authorities (together with local health groups and the local community) to decide.

Ask your dentist for advice if you are thinking of using any fluoride treatments.

More information about fluoride is available from the NHS Direct website.