Study Supports Fluoride Varnish to Prevent Tooth Decay

Want to cut your kids' cavity rates in half?

New research shows that as little as one fluoride varnish treatment a year can do the trick for children ranging in age from 6 months to 3-1/2 years old.

The treatment is inexpensive and easy to carry out, says Jane A. Weintraub, lead author of the study and a professor in the School of Dentistry at the University of California, San Francisco.

"Dental sealants, other types of topical fluorides and mouth rinses are all harder to use with young children," said Dr. Weintraub. Researchers said they had no difficulty gaining cooperation from the patients for fluoride varnish treatments.

All of the children in the study had at least four teeth and no cavities. The researchers randomly assigned 376 children to receive parental counseling and no fluoride varnish treatments, two fluoride treatments at one-year intervals or four fluoride treatments at six-month intervals over the two-year course of the study.

At the end of the study, children who had no fluoride treatments were more than twice as likely to have had a cavity as those who had yearly treatments, and almost four times as likely to have a cavity as those who had treatments at six-month intervals.

"Fluoride varnish is relatively inexpensive, easy to brush onto a child's teeth and can be part of a positive first dental visit to help prevent tooth decay," Dr. Weintraub said. "In contrast, when very young children get cavities, it is difficult for them to sit still for dental treatment. Often, young children needing many fillings receive care in the operating room, at great expense to their family and with the additional risks posed by general anesthesia. We now have an easy, low-cost way to keep teeth healthy."

Please contact the ADA if you have questions about this article.

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