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J Am Dent Assoc. 2001 Sep;132(9):1247-53; quiz 1317-8.

Assessing the effect of fluoride varnish on early enamel carious lesions in the primary dentition.

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University of Florida, College of Dentistry, Department of Operative Dentistry, P.O. Box 100415, Gainesville, Fla. 32610, USA.



The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of fluoride varnish on enamel caries progression in the primary dentition.


One hundred forty-two children in Head Start schools (3 to 5 years old) were randomized into the varnish and control groups. Children in the varnish group received fluoride varnish (Duraphat, Colgate-Palmolive Co.) at baseline and after four months, and children in the control group received no professional fluoride applications. Two calibrated examiners performed the examinations at baseline and at nine months.


At nine months, the authors found that in the control group, 37.8 percent of active enamel lesions on occlusal, buccal and lingual surfaces became inactive, 3.6 percent progressed and 36.9 percent did not change. In the varnish group, 81.2 percent became inactive, 2.4 percent progressed and 8.2 percent did not change. The difference between the groups was statistically significant (P < .0001). The mean decayed surfaces, or ds, value in the varnish group was significantly lower after nine months than it was at baseline (P < .0001). When enamel lesions were included in the data analysis (along with dentinal lesions), the decayed with initial enamel lesions, missing and filled surfaces, or dEmfs, values; decayed with initial enamel lesions, missing and filled teeth, or dEmft, values; and decayed surfaces with initial enamel lesions, or dEs, values were significantly lower in the varnish group after nine months than they were at baseline (P < .0001).


These results suggest that fluoride varnish applications may be an effective measure in reversing active pit-and-fissure enamel lesions in the primary dentition.


Fluoride varnishes are safe, easy to apply and well-accepted by patients. This study shows that fluoride varnish may offer an efficient, nonsurgical alternative for the treatment of decay in children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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