Introduction

It can be argued that the role of fluoride in caries prevention is one of the biggest success stories in the field of public health. In fact, in 1999, the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) declared water fluoridation to be “one of the 10 most important public health measures of the 20th century.” However, just as it is well-documented that fluoride has beneficial effects on dentition because of its ability to reduce caries, it is also well known that ingestion of an excessive amount of fluoride during the early stages of tooth development can also have detrimental effects on teeth, namely in the form of dental fluorosis. Because of that, there are many in the dental profession who advocate the use of fluoride, and some who are adamantly against it.1 What follows is a summary of what is known about the effects of fluoride on developing and erupted teeth, as well as information on the current forms of fluoride delivery. The goal is to get dental health professionals on the road to making informed decisions about fluoride use that maximize the anticaries benefits, while minimizing the risk of dental fluorosis.