Why Does my Hygienist Recommend Fluoride Varnish?

By Mina Levi, DDS, 06/18/2015

When a patient comes in for their routine professional cleanings at the dental office of Mina Levi, DDS in San Francisco, it may be recommended that a fluoride varnish be applied to the teeth after the cleaning is complete. The term “fluoride” is a bit of a buzz word for many people and some patients have concerns about fluoride and why it is recommended that it be placed in their mouths. In this week’s article, San Francisco Dentist Mina Levi, DDS discusses fluoride varnish, safety information and why it may have been recommended.

Fluoride Varnish San Francisco Safety

What is fluoride varnish?
Fluoride varnish is a concentrated fluoride paste that is usually white and sticky and is applied to the surfaces of the teeth after the teeth have been cleaned. The paste adheres to the teeth for a few hours and then is washed away by brushing and flossing regularly at home.

What is fluoride varnish effective for treating?
Fluoride varnish releases sodium fluoride into the enamel surface and re-mineralizes areas of the enamel that have been eroded. It also prevents de-mineralization of the enamel, prevents decay/cavities, and reduces tooth sensitivity.

Why was fluoride varnish recommended for me?
Fluoride varnish may have been recommended to you for a number of reasons in one of two categories: preventative or treatment. If you are considered at a “high risk” for dental decay, the fluoride varnish may be recommended to prevent decay and stop cavities from forming. If you are not a high risk, fluoride varnish may be applied to prevent de-mineralization and strengthen the enamel. Patients with teeth sensitivity have fluoride varnish recommended re-mineralizing the area and reduce the sensitivity. Some patients have areas of the teeth that have de-mineralized or have eroded away, leaving the tooth more vulnerable to decay and sensitivity. In this case, fluoride varnish will be recommended to re-mineralize the area.

Is fluoride varnish safe for me?
The short answer is yes. Fluoride is safe and effective in the dosages given at the dental office. The lethal dose of fluoride for most adult humans is 5 grams to 10 grams (depending on size of the person). The dosage given at one sitting at the dental office is about .4 grams.  It would take ingesting 12 and a half fluoride varnish doses in one sitting to be at the minimum concentration to be lethal.

If you have further questions about fluoride varnish or why you may need it, visit San Francisco dentist Mina Levi, DDS on the web at www.minalevidds.com or give us a call at (415) 513-5066.