Since researchers first became aware of the anticaries action of fluoride, they have been investigating the effect of this preventive agent in inhibiting or arresting caries development. Many forms of systemic or topical fluoride have been studied and tested for clinical application. Water, salt, milk fluoridation and the use of fluoride supplements were introduced for systemic fluoridation mainly using sodium fluoride. Solutions, gels, toothpastes and rinses of sodium fluoride, stannous fluoride, amine fluorides, acidulated phosphate fluoride and monofluorophosphate were used for topical fluoridation. More recently nonaqueous fluoride varnishes in an alcoholic solution of natural resins and difluorosilane agents in a polyurethane matrix were introduced. Although all of these fluoridation methods have a caries-preventive action, these benefits and the ease of application is variable. As fluoride is a key component of oral health promotion a coordinated approach on a community and individual basis seems to be needed to maximize the cost-benefit ratio of prevention.

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