How Long Does Fluoride Varnish Last?

Want to know exactly how long your fluoride varnish will last? This EON Clinics guide will answer that question and more.

Ever wondered why dentists recommend everyone to use fluoridated toothpaste or mouthwash? That’s because fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that holds the ability to keep teeth strong, clean, and free of cavities. It helps strengthen the thin outer covering of the teeth-the enamel.

However, many people end up with tooth decay or cavities and have not been using fluoride-based dental cleaning products. In such cases, dentists often recommend they undergo a fluoride varnish treatment and there are multiple benefits of fluoride varnish. But, what exactly is this dental procedure, what does it do, can anyone get it, what are its benefits, how long it’s the effect last, what to expect from the treatment, and are there any side effects? Keep reading till the end to know about the details of fluoride varnish.

What is Fluoride Varnish and What Does it Do?

Fluoride varnish is an in-chair procedure performed by dentists to provide an additional concentrated form of fluoride to the teeth. The fluoride contained in the varnish is typically more in amount than found in typical fluoride-based toothpaste and mouth rinse, and also it is designed to last on teeth for a much longer time. Getting a fluoride varnish treatment can:

  • Help strengthen tooth enamel and provide extra protection to some weak or decaying portions of the teeth
  • Slow down the tooth decay or possibly reverse the damage
  • Prevent cavities
  • Prevent bacteria build-up inside the mouth.

Suitable Candidates for Fluoride Varnish

  • Adults with moderate to high risk of dental caries
  • Children who are above 6 months old- their parents may choose to start fluoride varnish treatment for them after their milk teeth begin to erupt and then continue providing them with additional doses a few times every year
  • Elderly who are having a hard time maintaining their dental care regimen or good oral hygiene and thus are at higher risk of developing cavities because of not being able to clean all areas of their teeth- they may get extra protection on their teeth enamel for few times a year
  • Physically or mentally handicapped people or special needs patients who might find difficulty ensuring their proper teeth cleaning- can get fluoride varnish every couple of months
  • Individuals with poor diet plans- As bacteria that reside in one’s mouth feed on sugars and starches, those people who consume sugary or starch-loaded foods and beverages have greater chances of plaque build-up and potential demineralization from acid. However, with fluoride varnish, they can start their process of remineralization of teeth enamel
  • People who are on certain medications that can dry out the mouth by slowing their saliva production
  • People who are undergoing certain medical procedures such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy
  • Individuals who have sensitive teeth and feel uncomfortable visiting the dentist at times.

Why Consider Opting for a Fluoride Varnish Treatment?

 Fluoride varnish treatment offers lot many benefits including:

  • After applying a fluoride varnish, the enamel of the decaying or weak portions of the teeth immediately strengthens and gets an extra layer of security. The fluoride in the varnish helps in the remineralization of the teeth’ enamel by allowing easier absorption of calcium and phosphate- the two minerals essential for making up enamel of the teeth.
  • It can help children protect their primary teeth and ensure that their baby teeth fall out naturally instead of decay and be replaced with strong permanent/adult teeth.
  • It keeps in check the harmful bacteria that can cause tooth decay and cavities due to improper teeth cleaning and no consistent plaque removal. When the harmful bacteria are allowed to spread or accumulate, they feed on starches or sugary food residues stuck on the teeth to produce acids that demineralize the teeth and cause cavities. Fluoride varnish helps prevent this overabundance of bacteria, ultimately preventing the formation of cavities.
  • It helps one save money in the long run and eliminates the chance of requiring expensive dental work in the future. That’s because it is considered a preventive measure for possible decay or cavities and even gum disease.
  • It is entirely safe and performed only by a dentist as it involves the application of a natural-occurring mineral-fluoride. Fluoride varnish is recommended by many medical/dental organizations including American Dental Association as well as the Centre for Disease Control.         

How Long is Fluoride Varnish Expected to Last?

Once an individual receives a fluoride varnish, he/she would like its effect to last forever, unfortunately, it doesn’t. According to dental experts, one can expect to enjoy the benefits of a fluoride varnish anywhere from 3-4 months. Following the fluoride varnish treatment, the varnish stays on the teeth’ surface until the next day the teeth are brushed. The actual fluoride varnish only remains on the teeth for a few days and will eventually be worn down by brushing. By that time, the fluoride in the varnish gets a chance to be absorbed by the teeth enamel and start showing its effects.   


The application of fluoride varnish is one of the easiest dental practices which is painless and does not require a lot of time for the patient to complete.

On the day of the dental appointment, first, the dentist does professional teeth cleaning and then carries out a thorough dental check-up. This is done to ensure that all the dental plaque and tartar are removed, and the gums and teeth are clean. If the fluoride varnish treatment is performed on a child, the pediatric dentist will typically clean their teeth like usual or wipe off the teeth using cotton. All this depends upon the age of the pediatric patient.

Once the teeth are clean, the dentist applies the fluoride varnish evenly in the entire mouth with the help of a small brush. The patient can choose any flavor of varnish and the varnish can look clear or have a slight yellow tint to it. So, it is normal to expect slight yellow teeth after fluoride varnish treatment which disappears the next time the patient brushes his/her teeth.   

Post-Treatment Care

  • After having fluoride varnish applied, wait for at least half an hour to eat or drink. When allowed, avoid eating hard, crunchy, or chew foods. Consume foods or beverages that are cold, at room temperature, or warm. Refrain from hot, spicy, and sticky foods or drinks. 
  • Brush teeth only the next day of the treatment.

Are There Any Side Effects of Using Fluoride Varnish? 

Fluoride varnish works best as a protective seal around the tooth enamel. It is safe and effective. However, some people might experience certain side effects after the treatment such as:

  • Oral sores
  • Nausea
  • Allergic rashes.

If too much fluoride is ingested, the patient can develop a condition called fluorosis. This can manifest in children as white spots on the teeth. However, the amount of fluoride that one receives from fluoride varnish is very low, therefore it’s fine to continue using fluorinated dental products and use municipal tap water or fluorinated drinking water. There are no detrimental consequences of getting fluoride varnish. As long as one is receiving treatment from a dental professional, the correct amount of fluoride will be provided to protect the teeth. To get the benefits of fluoride varnish, schedule your appointment today!


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