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Fluorides are chemical compounds that help prevent tooth decay. They are found in nature – in rocks and soil, in fresh water and in ocean water. They are also found in some types of food.
Decades of research have shown that adding fluoride to water (fluoridation) helps prevent tooth decay. In some communities, natural levels of fluoride in the water supply match the optimal level to prevent tooth decay. In many others, the level of fluoride is too low and has to be added to the water supply. In Canada, the optimal range for fluoride in drinking water suggested by Health Canada is 0.7 milligrams per litre (mg/L).