Reconnecting Practicing Hygienists with the Nation's Leading Educators and Researchers.

The Staying Power of Fluoride Varnish

Fluoride varnish has become a widely utilized, professional topical application for treating dentinal hypersensitivity and preventing caries. While fluoride varnish has United States Food and Drug Administration approval for treating sensitivity, caries prevention is an off-label use. When answering this question for our patients, we need to review the mechanism of action for topical fluorides and the current evidence in the literature.


The three main benefits of topical fluoride application are: decreasing the demineralization of enamel, increasing the remineralization of enamel, and inhibiting bacterial activity.

boy at dentist nfsphoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus
Correct! Wrong!

Many manufacturers are adding minerals, such as calcium and phosphate, to their fluoride varnish formulations with the thought that they may increase bioavailability in the oral cavity, saliva, and biofilm, and, in turn, increase fluoride release and enhance the remineralization process.

child at the dentist ftwitty / iStock / Getty Images Plus
Correct! Wrong!

In what year did the American Dental Association issue an executive summary of the updated clinical recommendations and supporting systemic review on topical fluoride for caries prevention?

table full of data. papers courtneyk / E+
Correct! Wrong!

For fluoride varnish specifically, the panel recommended the application of 5% sodium fluoride at least every 3 months to 6 months for patients with elevated caries risk.

3d tooth graphic dvarg / iStock / Getty Images Plus
Correct! Wrong!

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry does not recommend that children at high caries risk receive a fluoride varnish application every 3 months to 6 months.

close up of child's teeth ia_64 / iStock / Getty Images Plus
Correct! Wrong!

Generally, patients should not eat or drink anything that is hot, sticky, hard, crunchy, or alcoholic for 4 hours to 6 hours after placement of fluoride varnish.

table full of sugary foods LauriPatterson / E+
Correct! Wrong!

Research studies have demonstrated that fluoride varnish has “long-lasting efficacy” in caries prevention.

3d tooth Viktoria Ruban / iStock / Getty Images Plus
Correct! Wrong!

While there is no specific timeframe as to how long fluoride varnish may last, we know from the existing literature that it offers many benefits with more frequent and consistent intervals of application, especially for those populations most vulnerable to dental caries.

3d tooth with Ca and F symbols maximmmmum / iStock / Getty Images Plus
Correct! Wrong!

The Staying Power of Fluoride Varnish
Not bad, but there’s room to grow when it comes to understanding the importance of fluoride varnish. Consider reading more about this important facet of dental hygiene care. Good luck!
Well done! Continue to study the importance of fluoride varnish. You’ve got this!
Congrats! You understand the importance of fluoride varnish. Get out there and put your know-how to good use!

Share your Results:

This information is from the article “How to Discuss Longevity of Fluoride Varnish,” by Erin Relich, RDH, BSDH, MSA. To read the article, click here.
Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy