Yes and no. It depends on which side of the fluoride fence you sit on. Some folks think fluoride makes no difference to dental health or is even harmful — perhaps it’s flossing regularly that is important.
In any case, I was surprised to learn that not all developed countries, particularly Japan, have fluoride in their water. I come from Singapore where the water has what I consider comfortable levels of fluoride to prevent bacteria from festering.
As my curiosity was perked on this topic, I searched on the Internet and found that Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Germany, and Czechoslovakia used to fluoridate their public water, but have since stopped.
An expat doctor I got to know in my early days in Tokyo informed me that the fluoride levels in toothpaste in Japan are actually not enough, if you are in the camp that thinks the chemical is an essential part of dental hygiene.
Even foreign branded toothpaste, like Colgate and Aquafresh, are not allowed to have the same amount of fluoride we have back home.
What’s the solution? Either stock up when you go home for a visit, or buy from amazon.com (not amazon.co.jp) or other online stores that ship internationally. It’s not illegal to bring in your own toothpaste into Japan — fluoride toothpaste is just not sold in the country.
Photo: Okinawa Soba