Fluoride Varnish

Information for Professionals
fluoride varnish


Fluoride varnish is a golden gel that is applied to a dried tooth surface. It has a pleasant taste and a fruity smell. It helps to prevent tooth decay by strengthening the teeth, and has shown to be most effective if applied to the teeth at least twice a year.


The varnish hardens on the tooth just after being applied, so the fluoride can be in contact with the outer surface of the teeth for a long period of time. The golden colour can take a few days to fade.


How is the fluoride varnish put onto the tooth surface?


The process is quick and easy. The varnish will either be applied within a visiting dental mobile unit or the dental team can bring their special portable equipment into a quiet, private area of school.


Only specially trained dental staff can apply the fluoride varnish. They have strict rules of hygiene and infection control. A clean pair of clinical gloves is worn and a new ‘fluoride application pack’ is used for each child. The child’s teeth are gently wiped with a cotton wool roll and the correct amount of fluoride varnish is applied using a small disposable soft brush.


A full set of aftercare instructions is given to each child.

Let your own dentist know that your child has had fluoride varnish applied at school.


Is fluoride varnish safe?

Yes when applied at the correct dose, fluoride varnish is safe.

Children can have fluoride varnish applied up to four times per year. Children taking part in Designed to Smile may have fluoride varnish applied twice a year in school. If your child has had fluoride varnish applied in school, it is a good idea to tell your dentist so that they can space out other applications to maximise
the benefit.

Children who swallow too much fluoride can develop white spots on their teeth. That’s why it is important not to let your child eat toothpaste. Fluoride varnish is applied at school only twice a year therefore the risk of developing white spots as a result is tiny.

If your child normally takes fluoride drops or tablets, they should not take them on the day before, the day of the varnish, or the day following the application.





Can all children have fluoride varnish applied?

Every child joining the programme must have written consent given by their parent or guardian.

The consent form asks questions about past medical history and we particularly want to know if your child has ever had to be hospitalised following a severe asthma attack or has an allergy to colophony or sticking plaster.

It may not be appropriate for some children to have the golden varnish applied; another fluoride product may be chosen instead. We will keep you informed before visiting school if this is the case.

If a child has a sore mouth or broken skin around the mouth or an infectious illness on the day of the dental team’s visit, then fluoride varnish will not be applied. We would let you know about this in writing.