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Fluoride is a mineral found naturally in some food and water sources. In small amounts, fluoride helps prevent tooth decay. It is added to most kinds of toothpaste and other dental health products, as well as to many town water supplies.
Dentists or pediatricians sometimes prescribe extra fluoride for children who do not get enough from their usual water supply (a private well, for example).
Fluoride is good for your health when used properly in dental products and when you get the right amount in your diet and water supply. It can be harmful if:
If someone swallows a large amount fluoride all at once—for example, if a child eats a lot of toothpaste or a number of fluoride tablets—they may get a stomach ache or throw up. These symptoms usually happen within 30 minutes to an hour.
Someone who swallows extra fluoride for a long period of time—for example, if your well water contains more fluoride than the recommended amount for a few years—may develop a condition called fluorosis.
If someone has swallowed too much fluoride, have them drink some milk and call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222, chat online or text POISON to 85511.
The poison center can also answer other questions you have about fluoride.
If you think you or your child is developing fluorosis, talk to your doctor or call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222.
Last Updated: Tuesday March 13th 2018