Skip to main content

Routine IT maintenance on Wednesday, June 19 will cause service interruptions between midnight and 6:00am affecting the YourHealthNS app and on-line appointment booking including COVID-19 testing, blood collection, X-Ray, EKG and the Need a Family Practice Registry.  We apologize for any inconvenience.

Oral Health

Oral health is essential to overall health at every age and stage of life. For children, good oral health supports growth and development, behaviour, and their ability to learn, socialize and play.

Nova Scotia Health Public Health works with partners across schools, communities, governments and healthcare to improve oral health outcomes for Nova Scotians. This includes reducing inequities by supporting healthy public policies which address the root causes of oral health outcomes, such as income and education, as well as policies that promote oral health, such as school healthy eating environments and community water fluoridation.

Public Health also supports long lasting protective interventions, including a school-based topical Fluoride Varnish Program, delivered by Public Health Dental Hygienists. School-based fluoride programs are effective in reducing cavities across the population.

Having a variety of ways to access the preventative benefits of fluoride is an important strategy for improving overall population health. Public Health’s Fluoride Varnish Program complements other oral health programs and ways that children currently access and receive fluoride. 

What is fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in soil, plant- and animal-based foods, and water. Because fluoride helps to prevent cavities, it is also added to various dental products. Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel (the outer layer of teeth), making them more resistant to cavities/tooth decay.

What is Fluoride varnish?

Fluoride varnish is a protective coating that can be safely applied to teeth up to six times per year to prevent, stop or reverse cavities. It can also be applied on teeth that already have cavities. Applying fluoride varnish to teeth is quick and easy.

What is the Fluoride Varnish Program?

The Fluoride Varnish Program is a Public Health program that offers two extra applications of fluoride to teeth for students in pre-primary to grade 6 in selected elementary schools in communities who would benefit most from additional opportunities to receive fluoride.

A small amount of varnish will be applied to visible surfaces of student’s teeth using a small disposable brush by a Public Health Dental Hygienist. It is applied quickly and only takes a few seconds to harden.

This program does not replace regular check-ups or fluoride treatments by a dentist, dental hygienist or other community oral health care programs. The varnish application is not a complete oral health exam.

What happens after the fluoride varnish is applied?

Students can eat and drink right after the fluoride varnish is applied.

The fluoride varnish may appear and feel like a film on the teeth that will wear off in a few hours after application. They may brush and floss at bedtime. Students should not receive any other professional fluoride treatment or rinse with a home fluoride mouthrinse for 24 hours.

Is fluoride varnish safe?

Yes. Fluoride varnish is safe and used by dentists and doctors all over the world to help prevent cavities in children from the time the first teeth come in. The use of fluoride varnish is approved and recommended by Health Canada and the Canadian Dental Association.

Is there a cost to participate in the fluoride varnish program?

No. There is no cost to students and families.


If you have questions about the Fluoride Varnish Program, please contact your local Public Health office.

©2024 Nova Scotia Health Authority. All rights reserved.