The fluoride ion has long been recognised as an effective inhibitor of dental caries when it is present in drinking water at an optimum concentration of one part per million. In areas where the water does not contain fluoride, supplements are needed. We have previously discussed fluoride tablets;1 this article deals with fluoride toothpastes, which provide fluoride topically rather than systemically. Although fluoride tablets are more effective than toothpastes, especially for infants, neither is as effective in practice as fluoridation of water.
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