Healthy teeth and gums are important to your overall health. In a past blog article, Your Dental Health and Heart Health, we established that something as simple as brushing/ flossing regularly and seeing your dentist at least two times per year may save your life. Good dental habits are the best prevention of tooth decay. These include proper brushing and flossing, dental checkups at least twice a year, enough fluoride, and eating well. Can fluoride varnish help get enough fluoride to your teeth to make a difference?
What is Fluoride Varnish?
Fluoride varnish is a substance (typically 5% NaF, sodium fluoride) that your hygienist paints onto your teeth to prevent caries (cavities) in your teeth. The solution creates a surface, on your tooth, that has a hardening effect on bones and teeth. When the fluoride varnish is applied to the tooth it will slowly release the fluoride over time and which also helps reduce tooth sensitivity.
How Often is Fluoride Varnish Safe to Use?
Over the years there has been controversy surrounding the safety of fluoride treatment. Dr. Bertolini considers each of his patients’ individual cavity risk and current fluoride intake before prescribing additional topical use. We recommend the use of an in-office topical application (fluoride varnish) twice per year to help prevent tooth decay and most patients benefit from fluoridated water.
Fluoride varnishes are easy to apply, safe, and effective for use on children and adults, and have a low risk of accidental ingestion.
If you are at a moderate to high risk for caries (cavities) Dr. Bertolini recommends an application of fluoride varnish at each hygiene visit and an at-home fluoride prescription-strength toothpaste and/or rinse.
Factors That Can Increase Your Risk for Cavities:
- The presence of demineralized enamel
- A carcinogenic diet
- Poor oral hygiene
- Multiple restorations
- Exposed root surfaces
- Dry mouth
- Orthodontic or other appliances
- Limited dexterity
- Physical/ mental limitations
What to Expect When Treated With Fluoride Varnish
Once the hygenist applies the varnish to your teeth they may feel ‘fuzzy’ or ‘rough’ until the varnish wears off. Your hygienist will advise you not to eat for at least half an hour, eat only soft foods, avoid hot foods or alcoholic beverages, and rinses for an allotted time after application.
Fluoride varnishes are safe and effective for adults and children, one or two times per year. Fluoride varnishes prevent cavities better because the fluoride remains in contact with the tooth surface longer than other topical methods. Varnish combined with the daily use of an at-home fluoride-containing toothpaste is very effective for patients with a high risk of cavities.
If you have any questions or concerns about your risk, contact our office for your free consultation.