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What is Dental Fluoride Varnish?

October 5, 2011 in Dental Hygiene,Dentistry by McCarl Dental Group

In the last few years, many new products have become  important in dentistry. One of these products allowing advances in dental care is fluoride varnish. Fluoride varnish is quickly replacing dental fluoride foams and gels.

Advantages of Dental Fluoride Varnish

Varnish is extremely effective for the prevention of tooth decay.(i) Studies show that the varnish prolongs the contact time between fluoride and the tooth surface, which helps reduce the rate of tooth decay.(ii)

At McCarl Dental Group in Millersville, MD and Greenbelt, MD we provide fluoride varnish to pediatric patients up to the age of 14. We also perform this treatment on all patients who are undergoing orthodontic treatment. Patients with braces have an increased risk of decay, and fluoride varnish is shown to be extremely effective for this category of patients. For adult patients who have extreme sensitivity areas, or are prone to decay, this is an optional therapy they can request. Unfortunately, insurance companies typically only provide fluoride coverage to patients up to the age of 14, but many adult patients feel the small out of pocket cost is well worthwhile. For those adults who do not request fluoride varnish, our office offers a fluoride rinse or foam tray at no additional cost.

Fluoride varnish is simply applied to the tooth by using a small brush, similar to a paintbrush. This thick material is painted onto your tooth by dental hygienist, and the patient is advised to not brush their teeth for at least 6 hours. Unlike traditional fluoride treatments, there is no restriction on eating or drinking, so patients are able to leave the office and have a snack or meal immediately after their appointment. Following a fluoride varnish application, there may be a slight yellowish color and thin film on the tooth. This is the actual varnish clinging to your tooth, and it is only temporary.

For our patients who have a more sensitive gag reflex, varnishes are great, because there is no need to hold a large tray in the mouth. While traditional foam trays are worn for about a minute, varnish is applied even more quickly. It’s easier than brushing your teeth, because so little product needs to be applied.

To schedule a dental appointment, dental hygiene visit or dental exam call our Millersville Maryland dental office at 410-987-8800. Or, for a Dentist in Greenbelt Maryland, call 301-474-4144. You may also request a dental appointment online at

(i)Quock RL, Warren-Morris DP.: Fluoride varnish: the top choice for professionally applied fluoride.; J Mich Dent Assoc. 2011 May;93(5):42-8.

(ii) Lam A, Chu CH.: Caries management with fluoride varnish of children in U.S.; N Y State Dent J. 2011 Jun-Jul;77(4):38-42.

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