Fluoride varnishing

Research shows that fluoride varnish is highly effective at reducing tooth decay if it is applied twice a year. Fluoride varnish should be applied at least twice yearly in all children.

2.5_Fluoride varnishing being applied

What is fluoride varnish and what is it used for?

Fluoride varnish provides extra protection against tooth decay when used in addition to brushing. Fluoride varnish is a pale yellow gel that sets quickly when applied to children’s teeth using a soft brush. The varnish sets quickly, has a pleasant taste and a fruity smell.

Scientific studies have shown that fluoride varnish gives added protection to teeth against decay when used in addition to brushing teeth regularly with fluoride toothpaste.

Dental services

Your child should be offered fluoride varnish application at least twice yearly from the age of two. This is applied to teeth at the dental practice by a member of the dental team.

You should let your dental practice know if fluoride varnish has recently been applied at nursery or school. This allows the dental practice to space out your child’s fluoride varnish applications to ensure maximum benefit.

Childsmile Nursery and Childsmile School

In priority nurseries and schools in each health board area, children are offered a further two fluoride varnishing applications. For some children this will mean they will have four applications of fluoride varnish per year. These additional applications will give further protection to your child’s teeth.

Some children will not have fluoride varnish applied because they have a medical history of allergies (specifically sticking plaster) or have previously been hospitalised due to asthma or allergies. If this is the case for your child, a full individual risk assessment will be carried out by your dentist and a decision taken on whether it is clinically appropriate for fluoride varnish to be applied.

On the day of application

Fluoride varnish won’t be applied if your child has sore areas in their mouth.

Some children may be taking fluoride drops or tablets. These should not be taken for two days after the fluoride application. After that, continue as directed.

Are there any risks?

Children who swallow too much fluoride over long periods of time can develop white spots on their teeth. However, the risk of developing white spots as a result of fluoride varnish is very small.

After the application

The fluoride varnish should remain on the child's teeth for the rest of the day and also overnight to provide the most benefit.

Please make sure:

  • you do not brush your child's teeth tonight, but from tomorrow morning brush them at least twice daily, in the morning and last thing at night using toothpaste containing at least 1000 parts per million (ppm) fluoride.