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What Does In-Office Fluoride Varnish Do?

by | May 1, 2019

While maintaining a proper oral hygiene routine, eating a healthy diet, and seeing your dentist regularly all aid in cavity prevention, sometimes it isn’t enough. In these cases, patients can request a professional fluoride varnish at their next dentist appointment. Professionally applied fluoride varnish provides a high concentration of fluoride directly to the teeth and can benefit those who are prone to cavities or weak enamel.


Why is Fluoride Important to Oral Health?

When the bacteria in your mouth breaks down the sugar and carbohydrates that you eat, they produce acids. These acids damage your tooth enamel, which is the hard, protective coating on the outside of each tooth. This process is referred to as demineralization. Once your tooth enamel has weakened, your teeth become more vulnerable to the bacteria and acids they produce, increasing the likelihood of tooth decay and cavities.

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral known for its ability to strengthen tooth enamel, which in turn helps prevent cavities. Fluoride also prevents bacterial growth, and slows down or reverses early tooth decay. Its cavity-prevention abilities have led to public water fluoridation in cities all over the world. In addition, fluoride is found in most types of toothpaste found in grocery stores. Although there have been concerns related to fluorosis caused by excess exposure to fluoride, fluoridated water alone does not contain high enough levels of fluoride to cause fluorosis.

While a broken bone will eventually heal, once the enamel on your tooth has eroded, it is lost and will not be replaced (i.e., healed) because the body just does not regenerate enamel. So, preventing enamel demineralization by having a professional fluoride treatment twice a year and by practicing good oral hygiene using a fluoride-containing toothpaste that has an ADA-Seal of approval, is the best way to protect the enamel on your teeth.


Professional Fluoride Treatments in Your Dentist’s Office

Dentists can provide children and adults with professional fluoride treatments called fluoride varnish to provide extra cavity, as well as strengthen the enamel. There are a variety of fluoride treatment methods used, but one of the most popular treatments uses Colgate’s® Duraphat® fluoride varnish.


Who Can Benefit from Professional Fluoride Varnish Treatments?

Children, adults and even the senior population can benefit from fluoride varnish treatments twice a year. However, if you are prone to developing cavities or considered high-risk for cavity development due to weak enamel, you may need to have fluoride treatments more often.


The Fluoride Varnish Treatment Process

Fluoride varnish is applied during your dental checkups. The treatment is directly applied to the surface of each tooth following your dental cleaning. There is no pain associated with fluoride varnish treatments, although if you accidentally taste the varnish it isn’t pleasant.

Once the treatment is complete, you will need to avoid eating or drinking for 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes have passed, you can eat soft foods and drink beverages normally. It is recommended that you abstain from chewing hard foods or brushing your teeth for at least 4 hours after your fluoride treatment to ensure the fluoride penetrates the tooth effectively.


Paying for Fluoride Varnish Treatments

Since a fluoride treatment is considered a preventative measure, dental insurance companies will typically fully cover a child’s fluoride varnish treatments. However, adults with dental insurance will usually only have a portion, if any, of their fluoride varnish treatment covered by their insurance company. While it may sound discouraging, the cost of fluoride varnish is nominal when compared to the costs associated with tooth decay, including composite fillings or even root canals.


How Effective is Fluoride Varnish?

Years of research have concluded that professional fluoride treatments are extremely effective in preventing tooth decay. Professional fluoride treatments have even been found to reverse cavities in their early stages. Just like dental cleanings, fluoride treatments are recommended twice a year.

Silver diamine fluoride is another effective fluoride treatment available at dentist offices. While different from fluoride varnish, silver diamine fluoride is commonly used on children. This fluoride treatment is used to prevent and stop cavities in baby teeth that will eventually fall out and offers a less costly option than composite fillings.


If you are prone to cavities or have weakened enamel, talk to your dentist about applying a fluoride varnish treatment at your next teeth cleaning. While some may be put off by the potential of insurance not covering the treatment, the costs of fluoride varnish are pale in comparison to the costs of multiple cavities and extreme tooth decay.


Triangle Dentistry located in Raleigh, NC provides a state-of-the-art facility that offers exceptional general dental and specialty services guided by empathy of patient’s needs and desires. Services range from dental crowns and implants to veneers and whitening procedures. For further information, questions or to schedule an appointment, contact the office at (919) 747-3592.