Fluoride Varnish for Caries Prevention: Efficacy and Implementation

Debbie Bonetti (Lead / Corresponding author), Janet (Jan) Clarkson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)
335 Downloads (Pure)


Many reviews support fluoride varnish (FV) as a caries-inhibitory agent. Evidence from 6 Cochrane systematic reviews involving 200 trials and more than 80,000 participants further confirms the effectiveness of FV, applied professionally 2-4 times a year, for preventing dental caries in both primary and permanent teeth. The relative benefit of FV application seems to occur irrespective of baseline caries risk, baseline caries severity, background exposure to fluorides, use of fluoride toothpaste and application features such as prior prophylaxis, concentration of fluoride or frequency of application. While the efficacy of FV is acknowledged in clinical practice guidelines globally, the implementation of this recommendation may still be an issue. Factors that may facilitate FV application in the USA include Medicaid eligibility, relationships with dentists/community centers and strong cooperation and communication between physicians and support staff. Barriers include insufficient time to integrate oral health services into well-child visits, difficulty in applying FV (lack of skills/training) and resistance among colleagues and staff. Research in the UK/Scotland also suggests encouraging clinicians in their motivation to perform this treatment and addressing professional and parental concerns relating to possible negative consequences may be influential. Further research targeting cost-effectiveness and how FV in routine care may fit in with political agendas relating to, for example, inequalities in health care provision and access will also play a key part in stakeholder decisions to put resources into this issue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-49
Number of pages5
JournalCaries Research
Issue numberSuppl. 1
Early online date22 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


  • Dental caries
  • Evidence-based dentistry
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Fluoride varnish
  • Knowledge translation
  • Oral health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry


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