Dyson Medical | 2222 N. Craycroft Rd, Ste#150, Tucson, AZ 85712

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Monday – Friday, 8:00am – 11:00am and 1:00pm – 4:00pm

(520) 202-3488

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Fluoride Varnish

The regular use of fluoride varnish has been shown to be an effective way to prevent, arrest and reverse the process of tooth decay in children and teens. Once applied, it allows the teeth to “remineralize” or restore surface enamel, thus preventing or reversing tooth decay. Fluoride varnish is applied directly to the tooth surface, providing for both immediate “remineralization” as well as on-going “time release” fluoride protection. Fluoride varnish is a thin coating of 5% sodium fluoride resin that is applied to the surfaces of the teeth. This forms a sticky layer which hardens on contact with saliva. The fluoride is then absorbed into the enamel of the teeth. Many studies have shown 25-45% or greater reduction in the amount of decay with the use of fluoride varnishes.

Fluoride varnish FAQs.

Are fluoride varnishes very new?

No. Fluoride varnish was developed in the early 60’s in Europe and has been used successfully there for years. Its use in the United States has slowly grown; pediatric dentists have been the main proponents for the use of fluoride varnishes.

Does a fluoride varnish cost more than a conventional topical fluoride application?

No. Fluoride varnish applications cost approximately the same as conventional topical fluoride.

Why use a fluoride varnish instead of a conventional fluoride?

Applying fluoride varnish provides a very efficient way for the tooth to absorb fluoride; the fluoride varnish is painted onto the tooth surfaces where it sticks to the tooth. The fluoride is then slowly released from the binding agent; this enhances its absorption by the enamel. Since the fluoride is slowly released — the chance of swallowing the fluoride is minimal; this makes it acceptable for use in very young children.

How is the varnish applied?

Fluoride varnishes are easy to apply. Using a small brush the varnish is painted onto the tooth surfaces. Once the saliva touches the varnish it hardens. After application, the teeth will have a sheen on them from the varnish.

How soon after the fluoride varnish is applied can my child eat or drink?

Your child should not drink or eat for an hour, or longer, after the application of fluoride varnish. The child should not brush the evening following the application, but should resume normal hygiene practices the following morning.

Is it safe?

Yes. Fluoride varnishes are very safe. Since the fluoride is slowly released from the binding agent, a toxic dose of fluoride is not reached until ten times the normal dose.

Applying fluoride varnishes at regular intervals can reduce the incidence of dental caries!!!

Fluoride Varnish and Medical Providers

Pediatricians and other medical providers see children under the age of two more frequently than the pediatric dentist. Therefore, having a pediatric dentist working closely with your pediatrician, or other medical provider, can reduce the incidence of dental caries in your at-risk child. Fluoride varnish provides physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants with a superior method of fluoride application, especially for children under the age of two years. The pediatrician should apply fluoride varnishes to at-risk children at 6, 9 and 12 months of age. Beginning at 15 months of age the pediatric dentist and pediatrician should alternate applying fluoride varnishes to at-risk children. Generally, the fee for the application of fluoride varnish at a pediatric dentist’s office will be greater than the charge incurred at the pediatrician’s office. This is generally because the pediatric dentist will clean your child’s teeth prior to applying the varnish and will do a complete oral examination as well.


Fluoride varnishes are indicated for infants and children with a medium to high risk of developing cavities. Risk factors to consider when identifying a child’s risk for developing tooth decay are:

  • History of dental decay in mother, child and/or other family members;
  • High sugar/complex carbohydrate diet (for example, using a bottle at night with liquids other than water, frequent cariogenic snacking);
  • Visible plaque, white spots and/or decay;
  • Low socioeconomic status;
  • Special health care needs;
  • Premature/Low birth weight, or
  • Medications that are sugar based or that cause dry mouth.


  • Children with a low risk of cavity formation who consume optimally fluoridated water or children who receive routine fluoride treatments through a dental office may not need fluoride varnish applied in the medical setting.
  • Do not use on individuals with a known allergic reaction to colonphony (colonphonium).


  • Even though the child may fuss, the varnish application is not unpleasant.
  • Tell the parent that the teeth may not be white and shiny until the next day.
  • Refer the child to a pediatric dentist in order to establish a dental home by age 1.
  • Fluoride varnish must be applied multiple times in a year to be effective. A child with white spot lesions or active caries should definitely receive multiple yearly applications.