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Protect Your Child’s Teeth with Fluoride Varnish

You probably know about many of the common ways to protect your child’s precious baby teeth, but did you know that prevention can go beyond brushing and avoiding excess sugar? In fact, there’s a fluoride varnish that protects against new cavities while helping stop decay dead in its tracks. Here’s the 411 on everything you need to know about this protective treatment.

What is it?

Fluoride varnish is a protective coating that is painted onto teeth, making the outer layer of enamel harder and stronger. As a result, your child is less likely to get cavities.

Is it safe?

Fluoride varnish is safe and is even used on babies after their first tooth comes through. Keep in mind that a very small amount is used and it’s made to stick to teeth, so there’s a low chance of it being swallowed. It’s a quick and pain-free process, and can be applied by a licensed dentist or medical professional.

Why is it recommended?

For starters, tooth decay is one of the most common PREVENTABLE diseases, so it pays to be proactive. Secondly, cavities can be painful and dramatically impact your child’s overall wellbeing. Often, the first thing that comes to mind is the pain experienced while eating, but cavities can also negatively impact smiling, talking, sleeping and learning.

How do I know if my child needs it?

Although fluoride varnish can benefit every child, this is especially important for children who are at a greater risk for decay. Some of these risk factors include:

  • Living in a community without water fluoridation
  • Family history of dental disease
  • Special health needs

How old should my child be?

Children of all ages, even infants, can have fluoride varnish applied. In fact, having varnish applied regularly after tooth eruption has been shown to reduce dental decay by up to 37%. It’s a good idea to speak with your provider about how often treatment will be needed as the frequency is specific to each child. For example, children at high risk may receive treatment every 3-4 months.

How long does it last?

Fluoride varnish is sticky and will stay on your child’s teeth until it’s brushed off the next day, but that doesn’t mean the benefits are short-lived. Varnish provides protection for several months after application and results are best when re-applied every 3-4 months.

What do I need to do after it’s been applied?

There are a few things you will want to do in order to ensure that your child gets the most out of their treatment.

  • Wait until the next day to brush your child’s teeth
  • Avoid hard or chewy foods for the rest of the day
  • Don’t worry about any discoloration from the varnish. That will disappear when the varnish is brushed off the next day.

How much does it cost?

Since every situation is different, it’s important to ask about the cost prior to having the varnish applied. However, typically your insurance (medical or dental) will be billed. Additionally, a special program might cover the cost or a very small fee may be charged per office. 

At Oaklawn, our team of family physicians with obstetrics can apply fluoride varnish in the office. Talk to your provider if you’re interested in learning more, or contact one of our offices to set up an appointment.