Having healthy teeth is important for a child’s overall well-being. For this reason, fluoride varnish is recommended after your child’s first tooth erupts. Fluoride varnish is a concentrated fluoride that is painted on to teeth.
This fluoride treatment can help protect your child’s teeth from decay or cavities. It can help harden enamel to stop, slow down or prevent tooth decay. Children can have a fluoride varnish treatment applied at their routine dental cleaning or exam.
This treatment is safe for children because very little product is actually applied or swallowed. Fluoride varnish adheres to the teeth and slowly releases the fluoride. The fluoride can then be brushed off 2-12 hours after application, depending on your dental professional’s recommendation. Children can also eat and drink after this treatment. Fluoride varnish is also beneficial for adults to prevent tooth decay and treat dentin hypersensitivity. Although fluoride varnish plays an active role in preventing decay, it needs to be paired with frequent brushing, flossing, and a healthy diet.
Fluoride works because the fluoride ions bind to the teeth and make the enamel stronger and less soluble. This process is called remineralization. It also stops bacteria in plaque from metabolizing to produce an acid that can cause tooth decay.
Access to care is a problem that many people experience with dental procedures because of low income. Alberta Health Services has a Preschool Fluoride Varnish Program for eligible children aged 12-35 months.
During the visit a Registered Dental Hygienist or Registered Dental Assistant will apply fluoride varnish to your child’s teeth. While at the appointment there will be an opportunity to ask questions about any other dental questions you may have. Eligibility is not based solely on income.
To find out if your toddler is eligible, search www.ahs.ca/oralhealth under Fluoride Eligibility and fill out the eligibility tool. If you are not eligible for the Preschool Fluoride Varnish Program please visit your local dentist.
If your toddler qualifies and you are interested in the Preschool Fluoride Varnish Program, please contact your local health unit or [email protected].
Jenna Simmons is a Registered Dental Hygienist with Community Health Services, Population Health Promotion Program. She can be reached by e-mail: [email protected]