Healthy Communities

Fluoride Varnish

Fluoride Varnish 

image of child getting teeth examinedFluoride varnish is a protective medication painted on teeth to help prevent new tooth decay from forming and to slow the progression of demineralized surfaces from further damage.  Fluoride varnish has been shown to have a 38% reduction in tooth decay in children who are at moderate to high risk for decay. 


What is the Public Health Issue?

Tooth decay is one of the most common diseases seen in children today.  The pain from tooth decay can prevent a child from being able to eat, speak, sleep and learn properly. Baby teeth begin to erupt by age 4-6 months and by age one there may be eight or more teeth present. Teeth are at risk for decay from the moment they erupt. Infants and children typically will visit a medical facility eleven times in their first three years of life for immunizations, paint a smilewell baby visits, etc.  The Office of Oral Health has developed a program called Paint A Smile to introduce this procedure to medical personnel in Arkansas. This is an ideal time for medical personnel to perform oral risk assessments, apply fluoride varnish, and encourage the caregivers to connect with a dental home for proper oral health care.


Is Fluoride Varnish safe?

Fluoride varnish is safe to use on babies from the time they have their first tooth (around 6 months of age).   Fluoride varnish is approved by the American Dental Association, The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.


What are the additional benefits of a fluoride varnish application to the child?

image of smiling toddlerPhysicians, nurses, and other licensed health care providers who choose to provide this highly beneficial preventive service to their patients should always help the child establish a dental home--especially if the patient is at high risk for dental problems from conditions such as extremely poor oral hygiene, tooth decay, defective enamel, frequent intake of sugared medications and drinks, special health care needs, suspected soft tissue pathology, and oral pain.


The American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs recommends fluoride varnish as the best professionally applied fluoride for moderate to high risk patients of all age groups.

ACT 90 of 2011

As a result of ACT 90 of 2011, Arkansas physicians, nurses, and other licensed health care professionals as well as dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants can now apply fluoride varnish.  

Specific Requirements Pertaining To Fluoride Varnish

  1. A minimum of one hour of continuing medical education shall be completed for any professional applying fluoride varnish.
  2. The physician will keep a certificate of completion on file for themselves and all those under their supervision.
  3. The Office of Oral Health shall approve training courses on dental caries risk assessment
    and fluoride varnish application.  It shall maintain a list of approved programs and publish the list on the Department website.
  4. The Office of Oral Health will keep appropriate records.

The course Caries Risk Assessment, Fluoride Varnish and Counseling appears on A-Train, a learning management system for public health. This course is RECOMMENDED by the Office of Oral Health to meet the training requirement on dental caries risk assessment and fluoride varnish application required by ACT 90 of 2011.

This course focuses on caries prevention. It offers a brief review of Early Childhood Caries (ECC) and address how the use of fluoride is part of a comprehensive approach to a child's oral health. Specifically, clinicians will learn the benefits, appropriate safety precautions, and dosing for fluoride, as well as how to apply fluoride varnish and provide adequate follow-up care.

Instructions and links to the on-line required course 
Course title: Caries Risk Assessment, Fluoride Varnish and Counseling
Link to A-Train site for course registration: Fluoride Varnish training

Public Health Accrediation Board
Arkansas Department of Health
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4815 W. Markham, Little Rock, AR 72205-3867 | 1-800-462-0599