Fluoride is a naturally occurring compound found in plants, rocks and at very low levels in almost all fresh water. It is used in many products related to oral health such as toothpastes and is also added to some of the drinking water in Victoria.

Water fluoridation and the benefits

  • Water fluoridation is the adjustment of fluoride in drinking water to a safe level that helps protect teeth against tooth decay, resulting in fewer cavities.
  • Tooth decay occurs when acid from bacteria destroys the outer surface (enamel) of the tooth. Fluoride can limit the amount of acid produced from bacteria and can also repair damage before it becomes permanent.
  • By reducing tooth decay, water fluoridation can save individuals and families money on dental treatment such as fillings. It can also mean less time away from school and work because of tooth pain or dental treatment.
  • The amount of fluoride added to the water is carefully controlled and monitored. You cannot taste or smell fluoride in your water.
  • More than three quarters of Victorians now drink water with either naturally occurring or added fluoride. Water fluoridation is an effective, inexpensive and socially equitable way to reduce tooth decay in children and adults.
  • There is no scientific evidence linking water fluoridation with side effects such as cancer, bone fractures, Alzheimer’s disease or allergy.

Dental fluorosis

Mottling of tooth enamel can occur if young children get too much fluoride (dental fluorosis). It is usually barely noticeable and occurs in areas with or without water fluoridation and is decreasing in Australia. By using fluoridated toothpaste carefully, the chances of dental fluorosis can be reduced.

For more information on water fluoridation, call 1800 651 723 (water fluoridation information line) or go to www.health.vic.gov.au