Having strong, healthy teeth and gums is essential to people’s health and wellbeing. Regular brushing with toothpaste containing fluoride helps prevent cavities and improves oral hygiene.

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in water in varying amounts around the world. It is also present in foods such as tea and fish. In toothpaste, it works by strengthening tooth enamel against acid attack.

Fluoride has been routinely added to toothpaste for more than a century, and millions use it safely every day.

In many countries, fluoride is added to drinking water to improve general dental health. The FDI World Dental Federation says more than 350 million people in over 30 countries benefit from water fluoridation.

Your questions answered

Why does Unilever use fluoride in toothpaste?

Fluoride in toothpaste offers a safe, affordable and easy way to protect teeth against decay. It is one of our Sustainable Living Plan commitments to help improve the oral health of people around the world and we have a longstanding partnership with the FDI World Dental Federation to promote the importance of twice-daily brushing with fluoride toothpaste.

Does too much fluoride damage teeth?

Children who consume excessive amounts of fluoride, at an early age while teeth are forming, may develop staining on their teeth, known as dental fluorosis. However, this usually occurs in countries with very high levels of naturally occurring fluoride in drinking water.

Because toothpaste is not normally swallowed, there is low risk of it causing dental fluorosis. However, parents should supervise young children when they are brushing their teeth, to prevent them swallowing it. The effects of dental fluorosis are generally cosmetic and not harmful to health.

Does too much fluoride lead to health problems?

Health concerns relating to fluoride are in connection with its use in drinking water, not in toothpaste. When swallowed, fluoride passes through the digestive system into the bloodstream and tends to accumulate in areas of the body that are high in calcium, such as bones and teeth.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has set a maximum amount of fluoride allowable in drinking water of 4mg per litre. Long-term exposure to levels higher than this can cause a condition called skeletal fluorosis, which may eventually result in joint stiffness and pain, weak bones and fractures in older people. Scientific studies have found no link between fluoride and cancer.

What Unilever products contain fluoride?

All our toothpaste brands, including Signal, Pepsodent, Mentadent, Aim, Zendium, Regenerate and Zhong Hua, contain fluoride. It is referred to as sodium fluoride or sodium monofluorophosphate in the ingredient list on the packaging.

Did you know?

Twice-daily brushing with fluoride toothpaste can reduce tooth decay by up to 50% in children, compared with only brushing once.

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