A protective coating called fluoride varnish that’s applied in the dental office twice a year is an easy, quick, cost-effective method for the prevention of cavities. We often call it “painting” the teeth at the end of our patients’ visits and it can be applied to primary (baby) or permanent teeth to help against the battle of tooth decay. There have been many studies that show that fluoride varnish can reduce the incidence of cavities by 37-43% by inhibiting the loss of minerals from tooth enamel and killing the bacteria that cause cavities. Fluoride treatments also help treat enamel sensitivity and restore the strength of enamel that can be temporarily compromised after an intensive cleaning.
At Sweet Tooth Pediatric Dentistry, it is recommended that our patients with a moderate risk of cavities receive an application of fluoride varnish at the end of their routine well care visits after their teeth are cleaned. This is also the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association. It is safe for all of our patients, even as young as one, and is recommended throughout adulthood for those at high risk of cavities!
Although you may have memories of those bulky foam trays or not-so-yummy rinses from your childhood, fortunately today’s in-office fluoride treatment is much easier to work with and takes less time than previous processes. To apply the tooth colored varnish at Sweet Tooth, we use a very small, soft brush and a simple swipe across all the teeth with the tooth-colored lacquer. The texture left behind is a bit sticky but the texture allows the varnish to adhere to the teeth for a better decay-preventing benefit with a slow release of fluoride. It is acceptable after treatments for patients to taste the fluoride as the flavors are quite pleasant and they will not be ingesting unsafe amounts. We even have a handful of fluoride varnish flavors for patients to choose from – mint, mixed berries, and orange cream! It is recommended to our patients to avoid hot and crunchy foods for a minimum of 4-6 hours so that the varnish is not scraped or melted off. The advice that children like the best is they get to skip brushing their teeth that evening if they have a fluoride application in the afternoon, so as to not remove the protective coating.
As always, if you have any questions about fluoride varnish, or the different types of fluoride in general, never hesitate to ask a hygienist or Dr. Erica.
Beth Corona, RDH
Dental Hygienist at Sweet Tooth