Scott H. Leaf Pediatric Dentistry, Burke, Northern Virginia

What is Fluoride Varnish?

Fluoride varnish is a coating that is applied to the outer surface (enamel) of the teeth using a small brush.  The varnish adheres to the teeth and sets after contact with saliva.  The use of varnish has become widely accepted by dentists and pediatricians alike as it easily tolerated by infants and young children, has a prolonged effectiveness, and has minimal risk of ingestion due to its immediate adherence properties.  The American Dental Association, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists and the American Academy of Pediatricians support the use of fluoride varnish as effective for reducing the rates of dental decay in the pediatric population.  The American Dental Association has rated the scientific evidence in favor of fluoride varnish as being of the highest quality for the success of preventing and reducing dental decay in primary (baby) and permanent (adult) teeth.  

Comparison of fluoride varnish and traditional fluoride gel or foam:

Fluoride Varnish

Topical Fluoride Gel/Foam

5% Sodium Fluoride

1.23% Acidulated Phosphate Fluoride

Quick application with brush allowing infants and young children to easily tolerate product

4 minute application time with trays for maximum effect making effective use difficult or unacceptable for infants and young children.  May aggravate sensitive gag reflex

Adheres to teeth for prolonged effect throughout the day

Expectorated after application, leaving little behind for continued effect

Minimal ingestion of fluoride due to its adherence properties, making this an extremely safe method of application, especially for infants and young children

Extra fluoride can be easily swallowed if not removed with dental suction or expectoration

Child can eat and drink immediately (with the exception of hot food or drinks)

Child must wait 30 minutes to eat or drink as to minimize amount of fluoride lost

Should not be brushed off until the next morning to maximize contact with the enamel





To read more about fluoride varnish, please check out these websites: