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Dental Care / Teeth Issues > Fluoride Varnish

Fluoride Varnish

Fluoride works to make the enamel stronger and more resistant to dental decay and is safe for infants.
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When to begin dental care

Once the first tooth erupts, it is important to clean the teeth at least twice daily. You can use a cloth, a finger toothbrush or a small soft toothbrush.

It is now recommended to use a grain of rice sized amount of toothpaste with fluoride until a child knows how to spit, usually after 3 years of age. After feeding a bottle or nursing, clean the teeth to prevent decay.

Never lay a child down with a bottle.

Once a preschooler can spit the toothpaste, you can move to a pea-sized amount of toothpaste with fluoride. Too much toothpaste encourages accidental swallowing. It is important to supervise whenever the child has access to toothpaste. Many children love the taste and will try to eat the toothpaste. Ingesting too much fluoride can damage the permanent teeth, even before they erupt. Allowing the toddler to "brush" first is okay, but they will not be able to clean their teeth well enough until about 7 years of age, so you must follow up with a good brushing supervised by an adult. 

For more on brushing teeth, please see Tooth Cleaning: When, How and What Toothpaste?

What is Fluoride Varnish

Fluoride Varnish is 5% Sodium Fluoride resin that is painted on the teeth to help make the enamel stronger and more resistant to dental decay. It sticks to the teeth, so is not swallowed or ingested and is safe even for infants.

Application

Once teeth appear through the gums, Fluoride Varnish is painted on teeth to make the enamel stronger and more resistant to decay. It is most effective if placed on teeth every 3-6 months, either by a dental or medical provider. The cost of this treatment should be covered by medical insurance as of January 1, 2015.

We offer this treatment in our office after a baby has enough teeth (dependent on parent's preference, but usually recommended when 6-8 teeth are present) until they begin routine dental exams with a dentist between 1 and 3 years of age.

Following Application

After it is applied it is okay to eat and drink normally.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends the first dental visit 6 months after the first tooth erupts or 1 year of age, whichever occurs first. We recognize that many families do not take their kids to the dentist at these ages for many reasons, so we will apply the fluoride every 3-6 months until a dental home is established. Please be sure your child sees the dentist by at least 3 years of age. We have many good pediatric dentists in our area - just ask us for some recommendations!

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