Fluoride is one of the most abundant elements found in nature. Water is the major dietary source of fluoride. The only known association with low fluoride intake is the risk of dental caries. Initially, fluoride was considered beneficial when given systemically during tooth development, but later research has shown the importance and the advantages of its topical effects in the prevention or treatment of dental caries and tooth decay. Water fluoridation was once heralded as one of the best public health achievements in the twentieth century. Since this practice is not feasible or cost effective in many regions, especially rural areas, researchers and policy makers have explored other methods of introducing fluoride to the general population such as adding fluoride to milk and table salt. Lately, major concerns about excessive fluoride intake and related toxicity were raised worldwide, leading several countries to ban fluoridation. Health-care professionals and the public need guidance regarding the debate around fluoridation. This paper reviews the different aspects of fluoridation, their effectiveness in dental caries prevention and their risks. It was performed in the PubMed and the Google Scholar databases in January 2018 without limitation as to the publication period.
Keywords: dental caries; fluoridation; prevention; public health; toxicity.