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Topical Sources of Fluoride

Following are the most common forms of topical fluoride:

  • Toothpaste
  • Fluoride mouthrinses
  • Fluoride gels
  • Fluoride varnish

Toothpaste is the most recognizable source of topical fluoride.

The addition of fluoride to toothpaste began in the 1950s.

Brushing with fluoridated toothpaste is associated with a 24% reduction in decayed, missing, and filled tooth surfaces.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded that the quality of evidence for the role of fluoridated toothpaste in reduction of caries is grade 1, with strength of recommendation of A for use in all persons.

Fluoride Mouthrinses
Mouthrinses containing fluoride are recommended in a swish and spit manner for children at least age 6.

Mouthrinses are available over the counter.

  • Daily use of a 0.05% sodium fluoride rinse may benefit children over 6 years who are at high risk for dental caries
  • No additional benefit shown beyond daily fluoridated toothpaste use for children at low risk for caries

The CDC concluded that quality of evidence for fluoride mouthrinses
is Grade 1. Strength of recommendation is A with targeted effort at
populations at high risk for dental caries.

View CDC Grading and Coding Systems
View Quality of Evidence Table

Fast Facts
The topical effect of fluoride is its most potent effect in caries prevention.
Regular use of fluoridated toothpaste is an inexpensive and effective method of preventing caries.
The CDC strongly recommends the use of toothpaste and fluoride mouthrinses, gels, and varnishes in children.
Fluoride gels and varnishes are applied by a dental or medical professional in the office.
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