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Fluoride Varnish

What Is Fluoride Varnish?

  • Fluoride varnish is a topical fluoride used to prevent tooth decay.
  • Fluoride varnish is a sticky fluoride compound.

What Is the Fluoride Agent Used In Fluoride Varnish Product?

  • Several fluoride varnishes are available; however, there are two main fluoride agents used in fluoride varnish i.e. 5% sodium fluoride and 0.9% difluorsilane.

Who Shall Apply Fluoride Varnish On You Or Your Child’s Teeth?

  • Fluoride varnish should be applied by a trained dentist or dental nurse.

Who Should Receive Fluoride Varnish Applications?

  • Fluoride varnish should not be applied as a routine treatment.
  • Fluoride varnishes application is recommended for children with a high risk of developing dental caries, especially children with inadequate exposure to fluoride (e.g. children residing in non-fluoridated communities, children in families with low socioeconomic status).
  • Patients with special needs, such as those receiving head and neck radiation; those undergoing orthodontic treatment; and those using medications that result in reduced salivary flow.

What Are The Benefits Of Fluoride Varnish Application?

  • Application of fluoride varnish is a fast, easy, painless and safe way to control dental caries in children, adolescents and adults.
  • Fluoride varnish is the only topical fluoride recommended for children under 6 years of age.
  • Fluoride varnish application reduces dental decay by strengthening the teeth. The use of fluoride varnish can reduce dental decay by 30% to 50% in children.

Where to Get Fluoride Varnish Application?

  • Fluoride varnish application can be obtained from both private and government dental clinics.

How Is Fluoride Varnish Applied?

  • Tooth is cleaned and dried with cotton gauze.
  • Small amount of fluoride varnish is applied to the tooth surface which quickly adheres to the tooth surface after application.

What Is The Ideal Frequency Of Fluoride Varnish Application?

For children at high risk of developing dental decay, fluoride varnish can be applied two to four times a year.

What should be done before and after fluoride applications?

Before application, parents/guardians/caregivers are recommended to,

  • give their child some food and drink before the procedure; and
  • make sure the child’s teeth are brushed clean.

After application, parents/guardians/caregivers should:

  • Make sure the child does not rinse, eat or drink for at least 30 minutes after the procedure.
  • Avoid brushing the child’s teeth until the next day

Does fluoride varnish cause discolouration of the teeth?

  • Temporary discolouration of the teeth may occur.

Does it have any taste?

  • Some fluoride varnishes may have some tastes due to the flavouring incorporated.

Who should not have apply fluoride varnish application?

The use of fluoride varnish is contra-indicated in patients with:

  • ulcerative gingivitis, stomatitis or other localised pathology of the soft tissues
  • history of allergic episodes requiring hospital admission, including asthma.


  1. American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs. (2006). Professionally applied topical fluoride: evidence-based clinical recommendations. Journal of America Dental Association, 37(8), 1151-1159.
  2. Autio-Gold, J., & Courts, F. (2001). Assessing the effect of fluoride varnish on early enamel carious lesions in the primary dentition. Journal of  American Dental Association, 132, 1247-1253.
  3. Autio-Gold, J. (2008). Recommendations for fluoride varnish use in caries management. Dentistry Today, 27(1):64-67.
  4. Azarpazhooh, A., & Main, P.A. (2008). Fluoride varnish in the prevention of dental caries in children and adolescents: A systematic review. Journal of Canadian Dental Association, 74, 73-79.
  5. Hawkins, R., Locker, D., Noble, J. (2003). Prevention. Part 7: Professionally applied topical fluorides for caries prevention. Series editor E.J. Kay. British Dental Journal, 195, 313-317.
  6. Marinho, V.C.C., Higgins, J.P.T., Logan, S. & Sheiham, A. (2002):  Fluoride varnishes for preventing dental caries in children and adolescents. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews  Issue 1. Art. No.: D002279. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD002279.
  7. Miller, E.K., Vann W.F.Jr. (2008). The use of fluoride varnish in children : a critical review with treatment recommendations. Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry, 32,259-264.
  8. Petersson, L.G. (1993). Fluoride mouth rinses and fluoride varnishes. Caries Research. 1993, 27 Suppl 1, 35-42.
  9. Petersson, L.G., Twetman, S., Dahlgren, H., Norlund, A., Holm, A.K., Nordenram, G., Lagerlöf, F., Söder, B., Källestål, C., Mejàre, I., Axelsson, S. & Lingström, P. (2004). Professional fluoride varnish treatment for caries control: a systematic review of clinical trials. Acta Odontologica Scandinavica, 62(3),170-176. Review.
  10. Seppä, L. (2004). Fluoride varnishes in caries prevention. Medical Principles and Practice, 13(6):307-11. Review.
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Last Reviewed : 23 August 2019
Writer : Dr. Tan Ee Hong
Accreditor : Dr. Norlida bt. Abdullah
Reviewer : Dr. Sharol Lail bin Sujak