It’s painful to drink a cold beverage or eat your favorite ice cream. You even struggle with the simple act of brushing your teeth with cold water. Every dentist and dental hygienist across the nation knows the answer: Fluoride. When it comes to research, the evidence is showing time and time again that fluoride varnish far outweighs the risk of cavities and decay.
Fluoride Varnish: A History
For nearly 50 years, dental professionals have been employing the power of fluoride. With each version of fluoride, an improvement was made. It became less messy to apply, it tasted a little bit better, and it started to be more convenient to apply.
Fluoride Varnish: The Benefits
Ease of Application
One of the biggest benefits to both dental professionals and patients is how quickly fluoride varnish can be applied and how easy it is to apply it. It takes less than one minute.
A second significant advantage to fluoride varnish can be seen very clearly in research studies. The level of efficacy that varnish provides is far superior than no fluoride treatment at all. This finding can be applied to every fluoride varnish application from early cavities in baby teeth to recently erupted permanent teeth to even white spot lesions and cavities in adults.
Varnishes reduce dental caries by anywhere from 50% to 70% across the board. For individuals who are moderate to high-risk for dental decay, this additional benefit can make a massive difference in long-term dental care.
Duration of Treatment
Beyond the benefit of enhanced strength with varnish, it is also ten times as effective at lessening the amount of decay when compared to regular fluoride containing toothpaste. Fluoride varnish extends its efficacy through the fact that it is sticky. This means that it will remain on the tooth for much longer , allowing the patient to eat and drink soon after application while also allowing the fluoride to continue being absorbed by the tooth. In fact, when the varnish comes into contact with saliva it hardens and can stay on the tooth and continue to be absorbed for up to seven days.
Another aspect of fluoride varnish that makes applying fluoride on children’s teeth easier for a dental professional and more comfortable for the child is the fact that the varnishes come in many different flavors. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends fluoride varnish treatments beginning at initial tooth eruption.
Alongside the advantage of fluoride application to young children, individuals who suffer from a strong gag reflex may also utilize the powerful effects of fluoride application. With fluoride varnish the fluoride can be applied directly to the teeth.
The easiest way to gauge potential effects is through the measurement of bio-availability, or the amount of a substance that is introduced into circulation when applied to any part of the body, allowing it to actively affect the body. The bio-availability of fluoride varnishes is minimal, meaning that it will have little or no effect on the rest of the body. Again, making it safer for very young children and adults alike.
There is also the matter of cost-effectiveness. You must be aware of the cost and reward of various services. As previously stated, the fluoride varnish takes significantly less time to apply. A fluoride varnish under $40 is much less expensive than replacing a filling or crown which reaches the $300 – $2,000 price range.
Recommendations from Experts
At the end of the day, the research speaks for itself. Fluoride varnish has greater efficacy when it comes to accomplishing what it is meant to accomplish: Treating sensitive teeth and reducing the rate of dental caries.
Jeffrey L. Angart, DDS
References: Today’s RDH.com / AAP.org / ADA.org / PubMed