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Fluoride Varnish: Why Apply it in a Medical Setting?

Fluoride varnish (5% sodium fluoride) is an important tool to use in the prevention of tooth decay in children. It works by lowering cavity-causing oral bacterial levels and repairing and strengthening teeth. The American Dental Association endorses fluoride varnish, as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Practice. The United States Preventive Services Task Force has proposed the application of fluoride varnish by medical providers as a Level B recommendation.

Fluoride varnish comes in convenient, prepackaged single doses that can be quickly and easily painted onto a child’s teeth as early as the eruption of the first tooth. It takes less than one minute to apply and requires no special dental equipment. Multiple applications per year provide greater protection for young patients.

RIte Care (Neighborhood Health Plan of RI and United Healthcare) will reimburse for fluoride varnish applications for children ages 6 – 48 months, twice per year at $13-$18 per application.  Physicians, PAs, APRNs, nurses and medical assistants are all able to apply fluoride varnish quickly and easily. Medical providers will be paid for the procedure even if a dentist has already seen the child.

Medical providers are the first line of defense against cavities since they see children much more often and sooner than dentists and they manage the needs of the whole patient. Medical providers are encouraged to apply fluoride varnish and refer children to a dentist by age one to ensure that their teeth get a healthy start along with the rest of them.

Professional Development for RI Health Care Providers

To learn how fast and simple it is to apply fluoride varnish, From the First Tooth (a DentaQuest funded program) offers free Lunch and Learn trainings in your office setting. Please click here to learn more about this free opportunity.

Reimbursement Information for RI Health Care Providers

To help you start applying fluoride varnish in your office, From the First Tooth has created a resource that provides an overview of the reimbursement process. Notes about the Current Dental Terminology (CDT) codes and frequency are included. Download and review the fluoride varnish reimbursement resource here.

US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement: Prevention of Dental Caries in Children From Birth Through Age 5 Years (2014)

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that primary care clinicians prescribe oral fluoride supplementation starting at age 6 months for children whose water supply is deficient in fluoride and that primary care clinicians apply fluoride varnish to the primary teeth of all infants and children starting at the age of primary tooth eruption. Read more here.

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