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."

© 2017 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

More Articles You May Like


You can get the benefits of fluoride from different places. It can work from an external source and from the inside of your body. To work the best, you need to get it from both. At home, you and your family should brush with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day for two minutes, especially after eating breakfast and before bedtime.

Fluoride toothpaste is one step you can take to help prevent cavities

Try one of our toothpastes to help keep your teeth cavity free.