The Maryland Department of Health’s Office of Oral Health has surpassed 200,000 fluoride varnish applications. The statewide intervention program, launched in 2009, is designed to prevent tooth decay in high-risk children. Through a partnership with Maryland Medicaid, the Office of Oral Health trains medical practitioners to apply fluoride varnish to children ages nine months to 3 years during their routine well-child visits.
“Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease found in children,” said Dr. Jinlene Chan, acting deputy secretary for the Public Health Services Administration. “Fluoride varnish applications help prevent pain and infections that could cause children problems with eating, speaking, learning and playing.”
Oral disease affects three out of every five children in the United States, making it more common than asthma. Low-income children suffer five times the number of cavities than their counterparts in middle- and upper-income families. By incorporating this low-cost intervention into routine medical visits, the State of Maryland is providing children with an easy and accessible pathway to prevent cavities and to, by extension, boost their overall health.
Fluoride varnish is a protective coating that is painted on teeth and releases fluoride over time to strengthen teeth and prevent decay. It is applied quickly and easily, making it safe to use on babies from the time their first teeth appear. Protecting baby teeth with fluoride varnish helps children speak more clearly, helps ensure there is enough space in children’s mouths for permanent teeth, and leads to good overall health.