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Fluoride and Oral Health

What is fluoride?

Fluoride is a mineral. In Canada, fluoride is found naturally in our water, air, food and soil.


Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay, a common yet serious disease in Canada. We have used fluoride to prevent tooth decay since the 1940’s. In fact, fluoride has been scientifically proven to:

  • strengthen tooth enamel

  • lower the amount of acid in your mouth

  • rebuild minerals that make teeth stronger

Sources of fluoride to prevent tooth decay

  • Toothpaste - Brushing your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste helps prevent tooth decay.

  • Water - Drinking water that contains an optimal level of fluoride helps prevent tooth decay.

  • Varnishes - Fluoride varnish prevents tooth decay in people who are at risk for the disease. Fluoride varnish should be painted on your teeth by someone who has been trained to do so.

  • Mouth rinses - Fluoride mouth rinses or mouthwashes prevent tooth decay in people who are at risk for the disease. Talk to your oral health professional before using them. Never give fluoridated mouth rinses or mouthwashes to children under 6 years of age. These rinses contain very high levels of fluoride, and young children are more likely to swallow them.

  • Gels and foams - Gels and foams are applied to the teeth to prevent tooth decay in people who are at risk for the disease. However, research shows that they do not work as well as fluoride varnish.

  • Supplements - Fluoride supplements are drops or tablets. Only take them if an oral health professional advises you to.

Natural Food Sources of Fluoride

Fluoride is important, in limited quantities, to our overall oral health because it can strengthen and re-mineralize damaged enamel, making it more resistant to decay.

Contrary to what you might hear, fluoride is a mineral that occurs in nature in many different places, including our food. Here are a few fluoride-rich foods you now have a new excuse to enjoy.


Popeye’s favourite superfood, spinach is packed with all kinds of great vitamins and minerals, and fluoride is among them. Spinach contains 0.07 mg of fluoride per cup. It is also a great source of Vitamin C, which can strengthen the immune system and help your body fight infections.

Grapes, Raisins, and Wine

Grapes are also a natural source of fluoride, but not in very high concentrations compared to raisins, which have more than 20 times as much fluoride as raw grapes. Wine is also a good source of fluoride, particularly white wine, which contains nearly twice as much as red wine.

Black Tea

If you get your daily caffeine hit from black tea, you’re also adding to your fluoride intake. Some people believe that the high level of fluoride in tea simply comes from preparing it with fluoridated tap water. In fact, the tea leaves themselves contain the mineral. Brewing your black tea with tap water just increases the fluoride content a little bit more. But be warned, black tea will stain your teeth, even quicker than black coffee!


Potatoes are also a decent source, particularly russet potatoes, which contain 0.49 ppm of fluoride. However, this fluoride content depends on how the potatoes are prepared: baked or baked potatoes and hash browns contain twice as much fluoride as french fries!


Shrimp, crab legs, and other seafood not only make for a fancy dinner or appetizer on special occasions, but they are also a very good source of fluoride.


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