When you take your child to the dentist for a check-up, they may be offered a fluoride varnish treatment. This is a routine treatment offered to children to strengthen enamel and help prevent cavities. Fluoride varnish is a temporary treatment, so it may be offered at each routine appointment, but it's up to you to decide whether it's right for your child.
Fluoride Varnish Explained
Fluoride varnish is a high-concentration fluoride treatment that is applied to the teeth with a soft brush applicator. It's only available in oral healthcare settings, and the varnish can be painted on to all teeth or certain teeth that are prone to dental caries, such as emerging molars. The varnish sets quickly once applied, so your child can eat and drink as normal after the treatment. Fluoride varnish has a fruity flavour and scent to make it appealing to children and is designed to offer an additional layer of protection against tooth decay, but it's not a replacement for regular brushing and flossing.
Benefits Of Fluoride Varnish
In addition to offering increased protection against decay, fluoride varnish can be used to desensitise exposed roots and remineralise the tooth surface. So, if your child has a bump or fall and cracks or chips a baby tooth, applying fluoride varnish can help strengthen the damaged tooth and protect it from bacteria at the same time. Parents sometimes worry about their child ingesting fluoride and developing fluorosis, which causes white spots to develop on the teeth. Unlike with toothpaste or mouthwash, there's very little chance of your child swallowing any fluoride varnish. This is because it is applied in very small quantities and it's sticky, so it adheres to the surface of the teeth. Additionally, it dries almost instantly despite the presence of saliva.
Potential Side-Effects After Treatment
As with all treatments, there are some potential side effects to be aware of. Fluoride varnish is yellow in colour, so it can temporarily discolour a child's teeth. However, this tends to wear off within a few days and causes no harm to the treated teeth. Additionally, some people can experience an allergic reaction to high concentrations of fluoride, but this is considered a rare side effect. Some children will experience localised irritation, so their mouth may feel dry, itchy or a little sore, but this tends to subside once the child has something to drink.
If you have questions about the suitability of fluoride varnish treatment for your child, speak to your dentist.
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