Varnish: Another Key Way to Get Fluoride’s Benefits
There are a variety of ways that fluoride can benefit teeth, including through its addition to toothpaste and water. Fluoride varnish is another way that children can receive the benefits. A new recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics calls for medical or dental professionals to apply fluoride varnish to children’s teeth 2 – 4 times per year, starting at 6 months (once teeth are in the mouth) and continuing through age 5. This is a highly concentrated form of fluoride that is painted onto the surface of teeth, where it dries quickly. As it gradually wears off, it strengthens the enamel — making teeth more resistant to decay.
Tooth decay is a preventable disease, and yet nearly one in four preschool-age children have experienced decay. Fluoride varnish treatments can be a powerful tool in our collective effort to significantly reduce the risk of childhood decay.
It’s important for parents and caregivers to understand that using fluoride varnish is not a substitute for brushing teeth with fluoride toothpaste or making tap water a primary drink for your child. In most areas of the U.S. that are served by a public water system, the drinking water is fortified with fluoride to help prevent cavities. All of these forms of fluoride are beneficial. When brushing a young child’s teeth, parents should follow these guidelines for the proper amount of toothpaste to use.