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What is Fluoride Varnish? Ask Our Advance Pediatric Dentist

You may have heard of “fluoride treatments” or “fluoride varnish” as a dental treatment option that can be used for children. In today’s post, our Advance pediatric dentist explains what exactly fluoride varnish is, and how fluoride treatments can help prevent cavities and tooth decay in young children.

What is Fluoride Varnish?

Fluoride varnish is essentially a gel that is applied to childrens’ teeth with a small brush. While initially sticky, it hardens once it comes in contact with saliva, and can be brushed off after 4 to 12 hours. The key ingredient in fluoride varnish, fluoride, is a naturally-occurring mineral that helps strengthen and remineralize tooth enamel. Fluoride has been added to community water systems in developed countries for about 70 years, and has been proven by multiple studies to successfully reduce the prevalence of tooth decay in those who use it. Since young children are just learning how to brush and floss, the extra protection of fluoride varnish can help decrease the risk of tooth decay.

FAQs about Fluoride Treatments

Q: Does applying the fluoride varnish hurt? 

A: No. Although some very young children may react negatively to the dental environment itself, brushing on the varnish does not hurt and takes only a few minutes. Your child will likely be able to feel the hardened varnish with his or her tongue, but will not be able to lick it off.

Q: If my child is an infant or toddler, how will the varnish be applied? 

A: If your child is very young, you may be asked to hold him or her in your lap while the pediatric dentist applies it.

Q: How often can fluoride varnish be applied? 

A: Fluoride varnish can be applied from 2 to 4 times per year.

Q: Can my child eat or drink after a fluoride treatment?

Yes, they can, but only soft foods which are cold or warm. Hot foods or abrasive substances can remove the varnish before it has done its work.

Q: Can my child brush their teeth after receiving a fluoride treatment?

If it has been at least 6 hours since the varnish is applied, it is generally safe to brush it off. Some pediatric dentists may advise you to wait until the next morning to resume brushing, however. It generally depends on the strength of the gel that was used.

Q: I noticed that my child’s teeth look yellow after the fluoride treatment. Is this cause for concern?

A: No. Some brands of fluoride can temporarily cause the teeth to look yellow or dull after they are applied. This will revert once the fluoride varnish is brushed off.

Advance Pediatric Dentistry is a pediatric dentist office serving Advance , NC children and teenagers. If you are interested in scheduling a fluoride treatment for your child, click here to make an appointment with our Advance pediatric dentist today.