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Fluoride Varnish and why the dentist keeps recommending it

In May 2006, the American Dental Association reviewed the use of professionally applied topical fluoride. Based on the latest research and new available modes of delivering fluoride, the ADA has recommended changes in how we deliver fluoride in office. Fluoride varnishes were originally developed to prolong the contact time between fluoride and the tooth surfaces. Varnish safely provides optimal protection, delivering the highest fluoride concentration possible.

There are several advantages to fluoride varnish in that it tastes better, can be applied by a dental assistant chair side very quickly, it lasts 4-6 hours, and is more effective than the brush on fluoride for small children. You will not swallow it, so it will not upset any tummies.

What is fluoride varnish?

Fluoride varnish is a coating that is painted on the teeth to prevent or stop cavities. The fluoride helps make the hard outer enamel layer of the tooth stronger.

Why is fluoride varnish recommended? Not only for children but adults as well

Fluoride varnish makes teeth stronger, helps stops cavities from getting bigger, and helps prevent new cavities from forming. Cavities can cause pain and infection that can lead to problems with eating, speaking, and learning.

Is fluoride varnish safe?

Yes. Fluoride varnish is proven to be safe. It dries quickly and is not swallowed.

How is fluoride varnish put on the teeth?

Fluoride varnish, as shown in the picture above, is painted on the teeth with a brush. There is no pain or bad taste. The varnish may make the teeth look yellowish or less shiny just after it is put on. These changes are normal and will go away when your child brushes their teeth the next day.

How long does fluoride varnish last?

The varnish sticks to the teeth until it is brushed away the next day, but the fluoride keeps working for several months to protect the teeth. Varnish works best if it is painted on 2 to 4 times a year. Please ask about fluoride at your child’s next visit to a dentist or physician.

Helpful tips after fluoride varnish application

For best results, keep the fluoride on the teeth as long as possible.
Eat soft foods for the rest of the day, such as pasta, bananas, scrambled eggs, etc.
Make sure foods are cooled and also avoid hot drinks such as tea or hot chocolate.

Not to brush, floss, or use mouth rinse the night after getting fluoride varnish. They should start brushing again the next morning.


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