Service Spotlight: What Is Fluoride Varnish?

Child with mouth model

Healthy teeth are important for our children, even if they don’t realize it. Children don’t always have the discipline to take care of their teeth as well as they should; that’s something even adults struggle with. That’s why our practice uses fluoride varnishes to help prevent tooth decay.

Fluoride is an essential mineral that prevents tooth decay. It’s so helpful that it’s even added to our drinking water, as it strengthens the enamel on our teeth and keeps cavities from forming.

A fluoride varnish is a dental treatment which is applied to the outer surface of the teeth, slowing down the damaging effects of tooth decay. It’s important to note that a fluoride varnish can’t completely prevent tooth decay, but it definitely helps.

When a fluoride varnish is used in combination with regular brushing (using a fluoride toothpaste!), flossing, and a healthy diet, a child’s risk of cavities goes way down. A study from the University of California demonstrated that children who received no fluoride treatments were twice as likely to have cavities as children who had annual treatments, and four times more likely to develop cavities than those who had semi-annual treatments.

Professional fluoride treatments have been in use for decades. They haven’t changed a whole lot since they were first introduced, except they are now flavored and tooth-colored to increase their appeal. A dental professional simply brushes the varnish onto the teeth. It’s so quick and easy that it is often the only reliable way to apply fluoride for young children. It is a much easier experience than sitting through a cavity treatment!

Cut the Risk of Cavities in Half

Pediatric dentist with child patient

The ADA recommends that at-risk children have fluoride varnishes applied two to four times per year. Because it is safe and easy to do, a fluoride varnish is the only fluoride treatment that is recommended for children aged six or younger. Other fluoride treatments (rinses, gels, foams) have a higher toxicity risk, being easy to swallow, but the risk of ingesting too much fluoride during a varnish treatment is minimal.

As a relatively inexpensive preventive treatment, fluoride varnishes are a practical defense against tooth decay. Children can begin receiving treatment at their first visit. It is far better to get ahead of the problem with a preventive treatment than to have a child in the operating room to receive multiple fillings.

Fluoride varnishes are an effective, low-cost way to help your children keep their teeth healthy.
Have questions about fluoride varnish? Give us a call and we’ll be more than happy to help any questions you may have!

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