Originally published on "The Arch: an Ultradent Blog"

Dentists treat patients who complain about sensitive teeth every day, and (as diligently as people may try to avoid them) sugary drinks and candy have become ubiquitous! Given these realities, it's no wonder that fluoride treatments have become so popular. But, before you begin fluoride treatments how should you determine what to use? Is fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash sufficient? Should you use a fluoride varnish? How should you choose which fluoride varnish to use and why? The answers might surprise you.

How Fluoride Works

Fluoride is an important part of a lifetime of good oral health. Not only has the use of fluoride varnish for caries prevention been endorsed by the ADA, it also helps treat tooth hypersensitivity to things like hot and cold temperatures or tooth whitening treatments.

Fluoride is a negatively charged ion that is naturally attracted to the calcium and phosphate ions that make up tooth enamel. Calcium and phosphate ions are susceptible to acid, which leads to caries and decay. Although regular hygiene and brushing can sweep away bacteria, brushing does not address damage already done to the enamel. Introducing fluoride ions to calcium and phosphate strengthens the enamel and can even help to remineralize it.

Many toothpastes and mouthwashes contain fluoride, but the longer fluoride is in contact with the tooth the more effective it is. Using a fluoride varnish will keep fluoride on the teeth for a longer period of time, ensuring that patients get all the benefits a fluoride treatment can offer. 

How to Choose a Fluoride Varnish

Taste and texture are decisive factors to consider when choosing a fluoride varnish. Your patient's compliance may drop or they may brush the varnish off too soon if it feels gritty or fuzzy, if they don't like the flavor, or if they are embarrassed because of the visible texture of the varnish on their teeth. In fact, a recent survey showed that more than 80% of dental professionals feel that the product's texture on the teeth is an important aspect to consider when choosing a fluoride varnish. The more natural a varnish looks and feels, the longer the patient will leave it on their teeth, allowing the varnish to deliver the maximum amount of fluoride ion to every tooth. Enamelast fluoride varnish has a smooth texture and translucent appearance that increase patient comfort and, as a result, probable wear time.

Smiling mouth before applying Enamelast Fluoride Varnish
Smiling mouth after applying Enamelast Fluoride Varnish

These before-and-after photos of an Enamelast fluoride varnish application show the smooth texture and nearly invisible appearance.

Of course, the effectiveness of a fluoride varnish is incredibly important. Major factors to consider when selecting a fluoride varnish include adhesion, fluoride release, and fluoride uptake. A study found that Enamelast varnish delivered the highest overall amount of fluoride to the patient's teeth and sustained a higher fluoride release over a 24-hour period than its competitors, with peak fluoride release at four hours wear time.

Fluoride release chart comparing Varnish brands

As a whole, the ability of fluoride varnish to adhere to the teeth for an extended period of time is responsible for its rise in popularity among clinicians. In contrast, mouthwashes and gels that contain fluoride are easily washed away, and adhesion and fluoride uptake vary greatly among varnishes currently available on the market. For a fluoride varnish to provide the best results it must adhere to the teeth for the entire recommended time. Thus, the product's adhesive capabilities play a direct role in the varnish's ability to deliver the full benefits of fluoride to the patient. Enamelast varnish features a patented adhesion-promoting agent that enhances retention and allows for higher fluoride uptake than any other fluoride varnish in its class, including the market leader, 3M™ Vanish™

Fluoride uptake chart comparing Enamelast and 3M's Vanish

Enamelast Fluoride Varnish is Right for You

Enamelast varnish comes in two convenient delivery options: unit-dose blister packs, or Ultradent's signature syringe and tip application. The Enamelast varnish unit-dose blister packs provide an ideal delivery option for clinicians who prefer the convenience of a one-time-use application, or for dental clinics in hospital settings that require the use of unit-dose treatments in which all materials are packaged together. Each blister pack includes a prefilled well and applicator brush, allowing the clinician to dip the brush in the well and paint the varnish on the teeth. Conversely, the syringe delivery method facilitates the ability to express Enamelast fluoride varnish through Ultradent's SoftEZ™ tip directly onto the teeth for fast application. As opposed to the unit-dose blister packs, each syringe of Enamelast fluoride varnish provides enough varnish for three to four patients.

Enamelast in a syringe and the four individual application flavours

 Ultradent's Enamelast fluoride varnish comes in the delicious flavours of Walterberry™(syringe and unit dose), Bubblegum (unit dose), Orange Cream (unit dose) and Cool Mint (unit dose).


*Trademark of a company other than Ultradent.

1. American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs. Professionally applied topical fluoride: evidence-based clinical recommendations. J Am Dent Assoc. 2006; 137(8):1151-9. The use described in the text might not be claimed by the FDA.

2. ADA Scientific Panel issues evidence-based clinical recommendations: Patients at elevated risk for developing cavities benefit from applying topical fluoride. American Dental Association website. Published November 01, 2013.

3. Data on file

4. Schemerhorn BR. Sound enamel fluoride uptake from a fluoride varnish. 2013. Data on file.

5. Due to formula variations actual results may be greater than represented data.

6. Schemerhorn BR. Sound enamel fluoride uptake from a fluoride varnish. 2013. Data on file.

7. American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs. Professionally applied topical fluoride: evidence-based clinical recommendations. J Am Dent Assoc. 2006; 137(8):1151-9.

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This article was published in the Clinical Life™ magazine: Winter 2023 edition

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