What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is the most effective agent available to help prevent tooth decay. It is a mineral that is naturally present in varying amounts in almost all foods and water supplies. The benefits of fluoride have been well known for over 50 years and are supported by many health and professional organizations.
Fluoride works in two ways:
- Topical fluoride: It strengthens the teeth once they have erupted by seeping into the outer surface of the tooth enamel, making the teeth more resistant to decay. We gain topical fluoride by using fluoride containing dental products such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, and gels. Dentists and dental hygienists generally recommend that children have a professional application of fluoride twice a year during dental check-ups.
- Systemic fluoride: It strengthens the teeth that have erupted as well as those that are developing under the gums. We gain systemic fluoride from most foods and our community water supplies. It is also available as a supplement in drop or gel form and can be prescribed by your dentist or physician. Generally, fluoride drops are recommended for infants, and tablets are best suited for children up through the teen years. It is very important to monitor the amounts of fluoride a child ingests. If too much fluoride is consumed while the teeth are developing, a condition called fluorosis (white spots on the teeth) may result.
What do you mean by Fluoride Varnish?
Fluoride varnish is a temporarily adhesive form of fluoride applied to the tooth surface by a dentist, dental hygienist or other health care professional as a type of topical fluoride therapy.Fluoride varnish is not permanent, but is designed to adhere to the tooth surface and keep fluoride in contact with the tooth for several hours.Fluoride varnish may be applied to the enamel, dentin or cementum of the tooth and can be used to help prevent decay, remineralise the tooth surface, and treat dentin hypersensitivity.
There are more than 30 fluoride-containing varnish products on the market today, and they have varying compositions and delivery systems. These compositional differences lead to widely variable pharmacokinetics, the effects of which remain largely untested clinically.
Fluoride varnish is composed of a high concentration of fluoride as a salt or silane preparation in a fast drying, alcohol and resin based solution.
Fluoride Application Procedure:
- Although it is not necessary to do a professional prophylaxis prior to the application of a fluoride varnish, it is recommended that the teeth be cleaned with a toothbrush.
- Wiping with a cotton gauze is adequate in cases where there is no heavy plaque or debris.
- The teeth should be lightly dried with air or a cotton gauze.
- The varnish will adhere even if the teeth are moist.
- Isolate the teeth (e.g. with cotton rolls) to prevent recontamination with saliva.
- A small amount of varnish is dispensed.
- Some manufacturers offer individual dose systems which come with their own varnish filled well.
- A small brush or applicator is then used to apply the varnish.
- The varnish will set on contact with the slightly moist teeth.
- The patient is instructed to avoid brushing for the rest of the day. Normal oral hygiene procedures can begin again the following day.
- In order to be effective in decay prevention the varnish should be reapplied at least twice yearly.