September 16, 2019
by University of Washington
Fluoride varnish has become a popular anti-cavity treatment for children, and it isn’t hard to see why. It’s relatively easy to apply, and not just for dentists or dental hygienists. Pediatricians can do it as well, with minimal instruction. The sticky varnish goes on with a brush and then dries in a few hours. There’s little risk of children swallowing the fluoride, as they might with other topical treatments such as gels.
Nor is it very expensive, with treatment costs generally ranging from about $25 to $55. That doesn’t seem to be a prohibitive price to pay to guard a child against tooth decay.
Yet a new study by two University of Washington researchers and their colleagues questions the cost-effectiveness of fluoride varnish for preschoolers and calls its anti-cavity effects “modest and uncertain” in this age group.
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