Fluoride Toothpaste and Varnish

Flouride provides your child with excellent protection from cavities. Upon the eruption of his/her first tooth, you should subsequently brush the teeth with “half a pea-size” smear of flouridated toothpaste. You may increase that amount to a “pea-sized” smear at 3 years of age.  At the 6 month well child visit, ask your provider if they recommend that a flouride varnish be applied to your child’s teeth after they erupt.

If or when you start your young child on supplemental formula, you may use city tap water to mix with the formula as this is already supplemented with flouride. If you use well water for your drinking water, please check with your county health department to have your well water tested (or check out the My Water’s Flouride website) and then consult with your pediatrician or family physician to assure that your child is getting the right amount of flouride.

Fluoride Varnish – Protection for your Child’s Teeth

Healthy gums and teeth are important to your child’s overall health.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that as part of a child’s routine dental care, once the first tooth has erupted fluoride varnish be applied in the pediatrician’s office every 3-6 months until that child is seeing a dentist regularly.  

Pediatricians apply fluoride varnish because many young children do not see a dentist until they are older. If your child is already seeing a pediatric dentist please let us know because fluoride varnish may be applied in that dental office instead. 

What is Fluoride Varnish?

Fluoride varnish is a dental treatment that can help prevent tooth decay, slow it down, or stop it from getting worse (the health of the primary teeth effects the eventual health of the permanent teeth). Fluoride varnish is made with fluoride, a mineral that can strengthen tooth enamel (outer coating on teeth).   Fluoride varnish treatments cannot completely prevent cavities but can help prevent decay when a child is also brushing using the right amount of toothpaste with fluoride and eating a healthy diet.  

Is Fluoride Varnish Safe?

Fluoride varnish is safe and used by dentists and doctors all over the world to help prevent tooth decay in children. Only a small amount is used, and very little fluoride is swallowed. It is quickly applied and hardens, then brushed off after a few hours or more.   Sometimes teeth will appear mildly yellow or dull following treatment.   This is temporary and the color returns to normal after the fluoride varnish is removed with brushing.   Additionally, most children like the taste ☺

How is Fluoride Varnish Put on the Teeth?

You will be asked to hold your child face up in your lap with your child’s legs against your stomach or around your waist while you are sitting knee-to-knee with the person applying the varnish. 

Fluoride varnish is painted on the top and sides of each tooth with a small brush or gloved finger. It is sticky but hardens once it comes in contact with saliva. Your child may feel the hardened varnish with his tongue but will not be able to lick the varnish off.  

It does not hurt when the varnish is applied. However, young children may still cry before or during the application (as they frequently do when examined).  Usually brushing on the varnish takes only a few seconds and sometimes may be easier when a child is crying because his or her mouth will be slightly open.

How Do I Care for My Child’s Teeth After Fluoride Varnish is Applied?

Your child can eat and drink soft cold or warm (not hard, sticky, or hot) foods and liquids right after the fluoride varnish is applied.   Do not brush or floss teeth for at least 12 hours but make sure to brush (and floss if possible) teeth after that time period has passed. If your child can rinse and spit, have them do so as well.

Facts on baby teeth