Fluoride in Switzerland: how much to consume?


Fluoride salts, commonly known as "fluoride", are naturally present in many minerals. They are found in water, soil, plants and air, and in small quantities in the human body. In living organisms, it is primarily responsible for the strength of bones and teeth. After the recent controversy over fluoride intake, HELVIDENT takes a look at fluoride consumption in Switzerland. 

Drinking water and fluoride concentrations in Switzerland

In Switzerland, the concentration of fluoride salts in drinking water is clearly regulated. In addition, federal law limits the maximum thresholds. For adults, the Swiss Society of Nutrition (SSN) considers an adequate fluoride intake to be between 3.1 and 3.8 mg per day. However, the quantities of fluoride found in food and tap water are very low compared to these recommendations. Official authorities therefore recommend the use of oral hygiene products containing fluoride salts, as well as table salt containing fluoride. 

Is fluoride in Switzerland toxic? 

The debate about the toxicity of fluoride is based on confusion with a toxic gas called "fluorine". Fluoride, ingested in minute quantities when brushing and eating, is completely harmless to human health. The German Federal Dental Association (BZÄK) states: "It has been scientifically proven that fluoride is almost 10 times less toxic than table salt".

The probable toxic dose (PTD) is set at 5 mg of fluoride per kilo of body weight. Above this threshold, the first signs of poisoning appear. However, the risk of overdosing is very rare. 

It may appear :

  • For an adult weighing 60 kg: after swallowing 3 tubes of ordinary fluoride toothpaste (75 ml, 1400 ppm fluoride), diluted or undiluted. 
  • For a 5-year-old child weighing 18 kg: after swallowing approximately 2.5 tubes (75 ml, 500 ppm fluoride).

Fluoride concentration in toothpastes

Visit Swiss Society of Dentists SSO recommends the use of fluoride toothpaste. In fact, most manufacturers follow the Cosmetics Ordinance and the recommendations of professional organizations such as the SSO regarding fluoride concentrations in toothpastes. This is indicated by the abbreviation "ppm", which stands for "part per million". 

The majority of toothpastes for adults contain 1400 ppm fluoride. In other words, one gram of toothpaste contains 1400 millionths of a gram, or 1.4 mg. A 75 ml tube of toothpaste therefore contains a total of around 105 mg of fluoride. 

A 1 cm dose of toothpaste used for brushing teeth (75 ml, 1400 ppm fluoride) contains approx. 0.7 mg fluoride. A dab of children's toothpaste (75 ml, 500 ppm fluoride) contains approx. 0.15 mg.

Fluoride to prevent dental caries

Plaque bacteria cause tooth decay by converting sugar into acids. However, it has been scientifically proven that fluoride-containing products promote the development of cavities. prevention of dental caries effectively. They have a triple action:

  • The direct contact of fluoride with the teeth increases the enamel's resistance to acid attack. 
  • It also helps remineralize tooth enamel through the action of saliva. This can block the development of incipient decay, or even reverse it.
  • It slows down the decalcification caused by these acids, which are secreted by plaque bacteria. 

Consequently, the use of fluoride toothpaste is essential to prevent tooth decay. In addition to strengthening the mineral structure of teeth, fluoride forms a protective layer on the tooth surface. 

Fluoride consumption in children

In children, fluoride toothpaste helps to harden and strengthen tooth enamel as soon as it appears. Dentists in Fribourg and Lausanne recommend using a special fluoride toothpaste for children as soon as the first baby tooth emerges. Choose a dosage of 500 ppm fluoride. When permanent teeth erupt (at an average age of 6 years), the Swiss Society of Dentists (SSO) recommends using a toothpaste containing up to 1500 ppm fluoride salts. If there is an increased risk of tooth decay, please consult your dentist and adjust the fluoride concentration accordingly.  

Don't hesitate to make an appointment with a HELVIDENT dentist or dental hygienist in our dental clinics in Lausanne, Fribourg and Aigle.