Healthy places Water Fluoride Health and safety

Health and safety

Health benefit of fluoride use

A constant level of fluoride below 1.5 mg/L can help prevent cavities by protecting tooth enamel against acids that cause tooth decay. The use of fluoride to prevent cavities is endorsed by over 90 national and international professional health organizations including Health Canada.  

Untreated cavities in children can cause pain, infections and difficulty concentrating. Cavities are a leading cause of school absenteeism among children. Cavities also cause health problem for adults, such as tooth pain and tooth loss, periodontal diseases or serious infections.


Natural fluoride levels above 1.5 mg/L can cause dental fluorosis in children, a condition that causes small white flecks on teeth or larger white areas and, in some cases, pitting or brown areas. Fluorosis usually happens during a child’s early years when the teeth are still forming below the gums. Fluorosis is a cosmetic problem, not a health problem.

If your drinking water contains more than 1.5 mg/L of fluoride it is recommended that you reduce other exposure to fluoride. Tips for reducing fluoride exposure

Important information for formula-fed babies

If you live in an area of Oxford County where there is natural fluoride in the drinking water-- such as Brownsville, Ingersoll, Lakeside, Springford or some areas with private wells-- Public Health recommends using other sources of water to prepare baby formula. This is because fluoride levels greater than 1.5 mg/L can cause fluorosis while teeth are developing in the gums.

People using private well water in Oxford County should test their well water three times a year for bacteria and once a year for fluoride and nitrates. More about well water testing

Children and fluoride
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