Self-applied topical fluoride responsible for the significant drop in the level of cavities since 1960 is fluoride toothpaste. The American Dental Association recommends that children (over two years of age) and adults use fluoride toothpaste certified by the ADA Seal of Approval. Other sources of self-applied fluoride are mouth rinses, either prescribed by your dentist or an over-the-counter product. The ADA recommends the use of fluoride mouth rinses, but not for children under six years of age because they may swallow the rinse.
Systemic fluorides such as community water fluoridation and dietary fluoride supplements are effective in reducing tooth decay. These fluorides provide topical as well as systemic protection because fluoride is present in the saliva.