Adding Topical Fluoride Varnish to Hygiene Appointments
According to the ADA Center for Evidence Based Dentistry document, “Topical Fluoride for Caries Prevention” dated November, 2013, many more of our patients should be receiving fluoride treatments as part of their regular dental care. Fluoride varnish application is an inexpensive, quick, and readily accepted procedure for our patients, and it provides them with much needed protection against decay. In addition, no longer is professional topical fluoride just recommended for children and teens. Research is showing that almost all of our patients, adults and children, can benefit from this simple, easy treatment.
Some indications for use are:
The ADA has recently come out in support of fluoride varnish even in very young children. Instead of advising our patients to bring in their children at age 3, we should be telling parents to schedule appointments as soon as primary teeth emerge. Little ones should have their teeth wiped with gauze, and then fluoride varnish placed. All adults should be offered fluoride varnish as well. It is now considered to be a part of appropriate treatment as often as twice a year (or even more frequently as needed) for all ages.
How does fluoride varnish work?
Who needs it?
Adults at moderate to high risk of caries are also candidates for fluoride varnish, as are adults who have exposed root surfaces, sensitive teeth, white spots, demineralized areas or dry mouth.
All risk factors should be documented in the patient’s record, both for proper recordkeeping and to verify conditions when submitting a claim to insurance. Many insurance carriers cover fluoride varnish, even in adults, as long as there is adequate documentation. Adults at moderate to high risk will have had three or more restorations in the past five years, exposed roots, “white spots”, dry mouth, or inadequate home care.
Hygienists can recommend fluoride varnish at any time during a patient’s appointment. If a patient has had decay or exposed roots, fluoride may be suggested to help prevent further problems. If a patient mentions that they brush and floss but still seem to get decay, fluoride can be offered. Patients understand that fluoride is helpful and are typically very receptive to the procedure. Adding fluoride varnish at $37 to an 8-patient day amounts to $296 in additional office revenue. For a four-day week this amounts to $1,184, and a month’s additional revenue of $4,736. Even if only half of the month’s patients are treated, the practice would gain $2,368. It is good for the practice’s bottom line and for our patients’ health.
Tell patients to go to ADA .com to find out more. Even Wikipedia contains information supporting systemic and topical fluoride! Fluoride varnish can be an excellent addition to our hygiene appointments.
Carol Tekavec RDH is the Director of Hygiene for McKenzie Management. Carol can improve your hygiene department in just one day of training “in your office.” Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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