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Fluoride is a trace element that, according to current knowledge, is not essential for human life. Nevertheless, small amounts are beneficial for dental health and help protect against caries. Traces of fluoride occur everywhere in nature, including in water and food. Drinking water in Germany is generally not fluoridated; the natural fluoride content is very low, averaging 0.1 milligrams (mg) per litre. In some parts of the country, however, drinking water naturally has high fluoride concentrations, for example in the Eifel or Münsterland regions. Mineral water can also be a good source of fluoride - it is worth taking a look at the label.

Food naturally contains only very small amounts of the element. However, fish and especially black tea can be rich in fluoride. The only food to which fluoride is added in Germany is table salt labelled as such. In addition, most toothpastes and sometimes other dental care products contain fluoride.

Studies show a protective effect of fluoride for the tooth enamel and the property of inhibiting the growth of acid-forming bacteria in the mouth. Basically, however, the body only needs tiny amounts for healthy teeth.

Taking in too much fluoride over a long period of time increases the risk of dental fluorosis, especially during tooth development up to the age of about 8 years. At first, dental fluorosis shows as whitish spots on the teeth; in more severe cases, however, discolouration and even loss of tooth enamel can occur.

Caution is therefore advised in early childhood. This is because the maximum tolerable daily intake of fluoride from all sources (0.1 mg per kilogram of body weight for children aged 1 to 8 years) derived by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) can be quickly reached/exceeded by children of that age.

Important to know: Simply by swallowing toothpaste, whether intentionally or accidentally, young children can absorb more than enough fluoride. The BfR therefore advises that only one fluoride source should be used at a time to prevent caries in infants and children up to school age: So as soon as brushing with fluoride toothpaste is started, the intake of fluoride through tablets should be stopped. Care should also be taken with fluoridated salt.

Proposed maximum level for the addition of fluoride to food supplements (per daily dose of an individual product):

Höchstmenge Fluorid_en

Fluoride-containing supplements are currently only available in Germany as registered medicinal products. From the BfR's point of view, there is no scope for the intake of fluoride via food supplements.



Press information

Date Title Keywords
"In everyone's mouth" - Fluoride


Eine Initiative des BfR:

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