Original Publication
Open Access

Smiles for Life National Oral Health Curriculum: Module 6. Fluoride Varnish

Published: July 16, 2012 | 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9196

Included in this publication:

  • BOHC Toolkit.pdf
  • Smiles For Life Module 6 Fluoride Varnish.ppt
  • Smiles for Life Module 6 Fluoride Varnish Video.wmv
  • Smiles for Life Module 6 Instructor's Guide.doc
  • Smiles for Life Module 6 Speaker's Notes.pdf

To view all publication components, extract (i.e., unzip) them from the downloaded .zip file.

Editor's Note: This publication predates our implementation of the Educational Summary Report in 2016 and thus displays a different format than newer publications.


Smiles for Life Module 6, Fluoride Varnish, covers topics for health care providers who take care of children and adolescents. The module is more than simply a “how-to” for varnish teeth; the module covers a range of topics including the cause of early childhood caries (ECC), how to assess risks for ECC, how to perform a proper oral exam on children, and a discussion of the benefits, side effects and the sources of fluoride. There is a clear explanation on how to apply fluoride varnish and instruction for post procedure for parents and caregivers. The module concludes with advice for parents on the care of teeth and also tips for successfully implementing a fluoride varnish program. This module is accompanied by a video.

Smiles for Life: A National Oral Health Curriculum is a product of the Working Group on Oral Health of The Society of Teachers of Family Medicine and endorsed by the American Academy of Family Physicians. Smiles for Life is the nation’s most comprehensive and widely used oral health curriculum designed for primary care clinicians. The 8 module course covers the relationship of oral to systemic health, child oral health, adult oral health, dental emergencies, oral health in pregnancy, fluoride varnish, and the oral examination.

The complete curriculum is web-based and is designed as an interactive educational tool for both individuals and groups from all aspects of the health care profession. It includes interactive online courses and clinical cases for individual and small group education, downloadable PowerPoint modules suitable for larger group presentations, instructional videos, and patient education materials. Free access to all materials is available at www.smilesforlifeoralhealth.org.

The Smiles for Life (SFL) Curriculum including Module 5 Pregnancy and Oral Health have been endorsed by:

American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Pediatrics
Society of Teachers of Family Medicine
American Academy of Physician Assistants
Physician Assistant Education Association
Association of Faculties of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
National Interprofessional Initiative on Oral Health
American Association of Public Health Dentistry
Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association

The SFL Curriculum has been downloaded from our website more than 140,000 times (www.smilesforlifeoralhealth.org) including:

58,000 courses
77,000 supplements
11,000 online courses completed

The SFL Curriculum is:

The core oral health curriculum used in 30+ medical schools.
Utilized in most Family Medicine residency programs nationwide.
Core curriculum for National Interprofessional Initiative on Oral Health.

The SFL curriculum was awarded the Society of Teachers in Family Medicine (STFM) Innovative Program Award honoring excellence in development of an educational program in 2007 and received Letters of Commendation from the American Dental Association and American Academy of Family Physicians’ (AAFP) Commission on Education in 2011.

Educational Objectives

  1. To discuss the etiology of early childhood caries (ECC).
  2. To assess a child's risk of developing ECC.
  3. To perform an appropriate oral examination on small children.
  4. To recognize the various stages of ECC.
  5. To discuss the effects, sources, benefits, and safe use of fluoride.
  6. To describe the benefits and indications for fluoride varnish.
  7. To demonstrate the application of fluoride varnish.
  8. To describe strategies for a successful office-based fluoride varnish program.
  9. To advise parents on caries prevention and describe when to arrange dental referral.

Author Information

  • Hugh Silk, MD, MPH, FAAFP: University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Alan B. Douglass, MD: Middlesex Hospital
  • Melinda Clark, MD: Albany Medical Center
  • Mark Deutchman, MD: University of Colorado
  • Joanna Douglass, DDS, BDS: University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine
  • Wanda C. Gonsalves, MD: Medical University of South Carolina
  • Russell Maier, MD: Central Washington Family Medicine Residency Program
  • Rocio Quinonez, DMD: Schools of Dentistry and Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • James W. Tysinger, PhD: University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
  • A. Stevens Wrightson, MD: University of Kentucky College of Medicine

None to report.

None to report.


Silk H, Douglass A, Clark M, et al. Smiles for Life National Oral Health Curriculum: module 6. Fluoride varnish. MedEdPORTAL. 2012;8:9196. https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9196

This publication is co-sponsored by the American Dental Education Association.