This Quarter’s Theme: Babies and A Dental Home
Tooth Talk Expert Helps You Answer Parents’ Questions About Fluoride Varnish
Question: Parents in my program are asking if fluoride varnish is safe for their babies. What can I say?
According to Gary Rozier, DDS, Professor of Health Policy and Management, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, fluoride varnish on babies’ teeth is not only safe but protective.
“The fluoride that dentists put on teeth during regular visits has been a mainstay for the prevention of tooth decay for many years. It provides important extra protection above that provided by the daily use of fluoridated toothpaste at home and fluoride in drinking water. Gels and solutions that were used for many years have been replaced by fluoride varnish, a sticky liquid that is easily painted on the teeth in only a couple of minutes. This way of providing fluoride is more effective than older methods that dentists have used before.
“It is so easy and effective that doctors and nurses have started applying fluoride varnish to the teeth of babies during well-child visits–more than a million in North Carolina. Studies done at UNC-Chapel Hill show a very high level of parent satisfaction with this procedure.
“Many scientific studies have shown fluoride varnish is effective in helping prevent cavities and even reversing early stages of tooth decay, often eliminating the need for fillings. For the most benefit, it’s recommended two to three times a year starting with the appearance of the first tooth.
“Not only is the fluoride varnish process painless, quick and effective, it’s also safe. Children who swallow too much fluoride over long periods of time can develop white spots on the teeth. Fluoride varnish cannot cause these white spots. Because it’s applied only every three to six months, a very small amount is used and some of it is incorporated into the teeth to make them stronger, very little fluoride is swallowed. Less is swallowed with the varnish process that with other types of fluoride treatments used for many years.
“Fluoride varnish application is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association for use during well-child visits at dental and medical offices.”
Best of all, it’s easy to accomplish: fluoride varnish can be applied in the doctor’s office. Suggest to the parents in your program to check with their child’s doctor to see if it can be a part of a well-baby visit. For a helpful fact sheet about fluoride varnish to share with parents, click here.
We want to know what’s on your mind. Ask the Expert at Tooth Talk, the website about improving children’s dental health for early childhood educators and care providers. Our panel of experts will choose a question each month and answer it on the site and in the weekly email. To ask your anonymous question, click here. See other Ask the Expert posts here.