The goal of dentistry is to help patients achieve optimal oral health. One of the most effective ways to do that is to prevent oral health from arising in the first place. Along with proper daily oral hygiene, a healthy diet, and attending regular dental cleaning and exam appointments, many dentists recommend fluoride varnish– a coat of fluoride that is applied directly to the teeth to protect against cavities.
To learn if fluoride varnish is right for you, schedule an appointment with our San Francisco dentist today at (415) 513-5066.
What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that strengthens dental enamel, prevents bacterial growth, and reverses or slows down early tooth decay. Demineralization affects people of all ages. Sugar and carbohydrates interact with the bacteria in the mouth to create acids that damage dental enamel. This weakens teeth and makes them more vulnerable. Over time, cavities become more and more likely.
Because of fluoride’s abilities, many city water systems contain fluoride. This has proven to reduce the number of cavities in those who drink it regularly. Fluoride is also in most toothpaste. Fluoride varnish is an additional treatment that Dr. Levi can provide to offer more protection against demineralization and cavities.
Is fluoride varnish only for children?
No. Dr. Levi recommends fluoride varnish to children, teens, and adults. Everyone is susceptible to cavities, and some more than others. It’s important to provide as many safe and effective preventive treatments as possible, regardless of the patient’s age.
What is the treatment process like?
Fluoride varnish is applied during your dental checkup appointment. After your dental cleaning, the fluoride varnish is applied directly to your teeth. You won’t feel any pain or discomfort, but it might not taste very pleasant if you accidentally taste some.
After the varnish is applied and dried, patients should avoid eating or drinking for at least 30 minutes. For the next four hours, avoid chewing hard foods and brushing your teeth. This will give the fluoride a chance to effectively infiltrate the tooth. Once those four hours are up, you are free to eat, drink, and brush normally!
How effective is fluoride varnish?
According to the American Dental Association’s document, “Professionally Applied Topical Fluoride: Executive Summary of Evidence-Based Clinical Recommendations,” fluoride varnish:
- can effectively prevent cavities in children when applied every six months
- reduces the risk of caries in high-risk populations
- Is more comfortable, takes less time, and achieves greater acceptability than fluoride gel
- Does not benefit patients who are considered “low-risk”
All in all, if you have a history of cavities or if your family does, fluoride varnish can significantly reduce your risk of developing dental caries.
Maintain Optimal Oral Health with Fluoride Varnish
Want to ensure your dental enamel is strong enough to protect against harsh bacteria and acids in your mouth? Talk to Dr. Levi about fluoride varnish at your next dental cleaning and exam appointment. She will be happy to discuss the benefits of this treatment and if it is right for your smile.