Focus on fluorides: update on the use of fluoride for the prevention of dental caries

J Evid Based Dent Pract. 2014 Jun;14 Suppl:95-102. doi: 10.1016/j.jebdp.2014.02.004. Epub 2014 Feb 13.


Improving the efficacy of fluoride therapies reduces dental caries and lowers fluoride exposure.

Background: Fluoride is delivered to the teeth systemically or topically to aid in the prevention of dental caries. Systemic fluoride from ingested sources is in blood serum and can be deposited only in teeth that are forming in children. Topical fluoride is from sources such as community water, processed foods, beverages, toothpastes, mouthrinses, gels, foams, and varnishes. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Dental Association (ADA) have proposed changes in their long standing recommendations for the amount of fluoride in community drinking water in response to concerns about an increasing incidence of dental fluorosis in children. Current research is focused on the development of strategies to improve fluoride efficacy. The purpose of this update is to inform the reader about new research and policies related to the use of fluoride for the prevention of dental caries.

Methods: Reviews of the current research and recent evidence based systematic reviews on the topics of fluoride are presented. Topics discussed include: updates on community water fluoridation research and policies; available fluoride in dentifrices; fluoride varnish compositions, use, and recommendations; and other fluoride containing dental products. This update provides insights into current research and discusses proposed policy changes for the use of fluoride for the prevention of dental caries.

Conclusions: The dental profession is adjusting their recommendations for fluoride use based on current observations of the halo effect and subsequent outcomes. The research community is focused on improving the efficacy of fluoride therapies thus reducing dental caries and lowering the amount of fluoride required for efficacy.

Keywords: Fluoride; Fluorosis; decay prevention; fluoride delivery systems.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cariostatic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Cariostatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Dental Caries / prevention & control*
  • Fluoridation / methods
  • Fluorides / administration & dosage
  • Fluorides / therapeutic use*
  • Fluorides, Topical / therapeutic use
  • Fluorosis, Dental / prevention & control
  • Humans


  • Cariostatic Agents
  • Fluorides, Topical
  • Fluorides