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Using Fluoride to Protect Your Teeth

You brush your teeth twice a day, floss regularly, and visit the dentist every six months, but did you know that rinsing with fluoride — a mineral that helps prevent cavities and tooth decay — also helps keep your teeth healthy and strong?

Fluoride counteracts caries in at least three ways: it enhances the uptake of minerals -- such as calcium and phosphate -- during remineralization; its incorporation into the crystal structure of enamel increases resistance to acid attack; and fluoride ions can disrupt cariogenic bacterial activity. 

Fluoride derived from low-concentration sources, such as fluoridated drinking water (0.7 ppm), for example, tends to exist in ionic form in oral reservoirs, such as saliva and plaque. 

High-concentration delivery methods, such as fluoride varnish, result in the formation of a calcium fluoride layer near the enamel surface.  This layer stands ready to provide and anticariogenic effect when oral pH levels drop. 

We routinely apply fluoride varnish treatment on children until 18 years of age.  It is also recommended for patients who present with higher caries risk factors, dry mouth, or exposed root surfaces. 

Because its stickiness allows varnish to adhere to tooth surfaces -- thus minimizing swallowing risk -- the application of varnish is recommended for all age groups. 

A fluoride varnish treatment in our office takes just a few minutes. 


Please follow these instructions following your fluoride varnish treatment.

1. Fluoride varnish will remain on your teeth for approximately 4-6 hours.  Please follow the guidelines below during that time only:

  • Do not brush or floss.
  • Avoid hot beverages.
  • Avoid hard or crunchy foods.
  • Avoid products containing alcohol.
  • Avoid other “over the counter” fluoride items such as toothpastes, gels, and rinses.

​​2. Please resume the activities above following the expiration of the 6 hour window.

3. DO NOT use your prescription fluoride medications such as Gel-Kam or Periomed for three days AFTER treatment.

4. A thorough brushing and flossing of your teeth (after the six hours window) will remove any remaining traces of your fluoride