The Up-Sell Of Adult Fluoride Varnish

Find out of you really need a fluoride treatment every time you get your teeth cleaned.

There are offices, many of which are corporations, which insist on their hygienists applying fluoride varnish after every cleaning, no matter the patient’s age or need. These offices pressure the practice of fluoride varnish as a routine service, conforming the practitioner into a non-discretionary employee, which can be very intimidating to uninformed patients. Many of you have experienced the offering of fluoride varnish and have submitted due to the discomfort level of your questioning it. There are dental offices banking on your allowing them to do a fluoride varnish application, and they remember you as an easy patient who allows them to perform whatever services are suggested.

Sounds harsh, but it’s true. Fluoride varnish is touted by sales reps and dental consultation companies as a quick and easy add on to increase sales. The typical varnish costs a dental office about .50-.65 cents a dose and only takes the hygienist less than two minutes to apply. Your charge is anywhere from $25-$40 and it comes right out of your pocket because insurance companies don’t cover adult fluoride treatments. Then, if a hygienist is really good at upselling, especially when bonuses are attached to daily production, they may even try to sell you a prescription strength fluoride paste to take home, regardless of the last time you had a cavity.

You are Profit in the Chair, Not a Person in the Chair

My skin is crawling writing this because I have experienced the type of dental office where you are profit in the chair, not a person in the chair. Needless to say, I didn’t last long, however, I gained enough insight to pass information on to you. It is very rare for an adult to need a fluoride application for the purpose of decay prevention. If an adult is experiencing decay, it’s crucial to explore the reasons, and then apply far more reaching solutions than a fluoride varnish. Your daily dental habits at home are far more effective in prevention than anything performed at a dental office. I must repeat: There is nothing more important than what you yourself can manage at home to maintain your oral health.

If an adult is experiencing decay, fluoride is not the answer. Addressing the cause of the decay is the answer whether it be dry mouth or a health issue, all of which have alternatives to fluoride for treatment. Remember, things like fluoride varnish and prescription take-home pastes have high amounts of fluoride which can be absorbed into your bloodstream and distributed throughout your entire body without it ever exiting completely as waste.

Besides decay, generalized teeth sensitivity could be an argument for a fluoride varnish treatment, but oh the irony. It would be negligent to not discuss the causes of sensitivity, as sometimes it’s the fluoride toothpaste filled with chemicals which make teeth sensitive, see my blog The Truthpaste of Toothpaste. Generalized sensitivity is usually from the deprivation of healthy mineral absorption of the teeth or if mouth PH is too acidic, which a fluoride varnish treatment will completely breeze right over.

The offices I’ve worked at have been using MI Paste for years as an alternative to take-home fluoride pastes which are used for decay prevention and sensitivity. They do make one, MI Paste Plus with fluoride, but I don’t choose that one as the fluoride is superfluous to the active ingredient of Recaldent which remineralizes tooth enamel as well as prevents decay. The Recaldent is made from milk peptides and bonds to the calcium and phosphate (naturally occurring in saliva) ingredients to bind them to the enamel. The paste also neutralizes acids to restore mouth PH. MI Paste cannot be used for anyone with a milk protein allergy but it’s a great alternative to fluoride, although, it must be purchased through a dental office.

If you are truly diagnosed with new adult decay, forgo the fluoride varnish treatment, and instead, save your money to purchase some MI Paste. However, I am not one hundred percent in love with MI Paste, as it contains chemicals such as the preservative benzoate, which many people can be sensitive to.

You can be completely independent in preventing and remineralizing adult decay by using pastes with the bioidentical minerals of nano-hydroxyapatite, of which many countries such as Japan and Europe are way ahead of us. Nano-hydroxyapatite is a crystalline calcium phosphate derived from bone and is almost identical to the hydroxyapatite of our teeth. It directly replaces lost minerals and restores enamel to its original form without any toxic or harmful side effects as it’s in itself edible. Unlike fluoride, while these pastes strengthen your teeth, they also create a uniform color of translucent white making them healthy looking as well. If you are using a nano-hydroxyapatite toothpaste at home, you most certainly can forgo a fluoride varnish treatment at the dental office.

Click image to order remineralizing toothgel by CariFree

Obviously, if at your dental visit you have no decay, they really can’t intimidate you with their sales talk on fluoride varnish; with confidence you can say, “No thanks.” If you’re experiencing new decay, thank them for finding it but forgo the varnish, and let your hygienist know you’d rather spend the money on taking some MI Paste home. Better yet, you can be the one educating your fluoride convinced dental team when you tell them, “I’ll be using my nano-hydroxyapatite paste!” Say that three times.

*This blog contains affiliate links for products Ask My Hygienist carefully recommends based on professional experience or personal use. These suggestions are to assist you in your quest for better oral health, and in turn, you're assisting our blog with the small commission we receive from your purchase.

Author: Cari

Cari has been a practicing dental hygienist for over 30 years. She received her degree with honors and was selected for a rare internship at Eastman Dental School, Rochester, NY. She then went on to receive a BS in Social Work from Nazareth College, cum laude. She has practiced in a variety of offices in Santa Fe for almost 25 years, with dental hygiene experience that has spanned from public health to holistic private practice, to specializing in dental phobic patients. Her commitment to research with a life-long desire to learn is combined with her genuine drive to provide patients with a whole health knowledge base. Cari also brings her experience as a published writer to her role as an oral health blogger. She has written blogs and web pages for Beyond Borders Dental in her role as Director of Dental Relations and Education.

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