Okemos Dental Services
It All Begins with Your Smile. Award-Winning Dental Care in Okemos & Beyond

What is Fluoride Varnish?

Fluoride Varnish
What is fluoride?
Easily define; fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by slowing demineralization and increasing the remineralization process.
Wait, what is demineralization?
Demineralization is the break-down of enamel, they may appear sometimes whiter, and are soft when touched by an instrument. A demineralized area is more susceptible to decay thus inviting the use of fluoride to help re harden the spots.
You may remember “back in the day” your hygienist would apply a foam or gel to a tray that seemed too big for your mouth and then upon placing it on both top and bottom teeth, give you the suction to catch the drool. But we have good news….you don’t have to endear that mess anymore, let us introduce you to Fluoride Varnish
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What’s fluoride varnish you ask?
That’s simple, most fluoride varnishes are lacquers containing 5% sodium fluoride in a colophony/resin base with 10,000-20,000 parts per million. Huh?
The concentration of fluoride in at home toothpaste and mouthwash, while substantial for home care, is not enough for an at risk patient. The difference between professional fluoride services and at home products is the parts per million and the delivery. Toothpaste and mouthwash contain 500-850 parts per million, a significantly lower amount than varnish.
Another difference we’d like to define… once fluoride varnish is topically applied professionally; it solidifies to the teeth, achieving maximum potential within 3-4 hours. Toothpaste and mouthwash is spit out of the mouth, hence ridding your mouth of almost all fluoride.
There is no amount of time you can keep the toothpaste or mouthwash in your mouth to increase the parts per million. We know you thought of that.
While it takes 3-4 hours for the maximum potential to be reached with fluoride varnish, you’d be amazed at what you would see under the microscope in up to 4 months. Well, maybe you wouldn’t be, but we would be! Anyways, in up to four months’ time, there would still be evidence of fluoride in areas that are susceptible to cavities (decay).
Why are there areas of decay?
That’s a whole other blog post, but I can tell you this…there is not just one cause for decay. This is something that we as your dental team will go over with you, if and when you receive the news of a cavity forming.
Now you may be asking yourself, what exactly does fluoride varnish do?
  1. It decreases the bacterial count in your mouth
  2. Decreases sensitivity
So to wrap up explaining to you all about fluoride varnish, we want to make mention that, no; it will not harm you inside or out. Varnish is a topically placed and is designed to harden to the tooth surface; therefore you will not be ingesting said fluoride.
In conclusion, is fluoride varnish for you? Yes, well probably. Ask yourself these questions:
Have I ever had a cavity?
Do I have decay currently?
Do I have restorations, cosmetic or otherwise?
Have I had to have any teeth extracted, besides my wisdom teeth?
If you answered yes to any of these, you are a great candidate for fluoride varnish. It can be applied at any of your cleaning visits whether you visit every 3, 4 or 6 months!