The prevalence of dental caries (tooth decay) among preschool children is increasing, driven partially by an earlier age of onset of carious lesions. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends application of 5% sodium fluoride varnish at intervals increasing with caries risk status, as soon as teeth are present. However, the varnishes are marketed for treatment of tooth sensitivity and are regulated as medical devices rather than approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for prevention of dental caries (tooth decay). The objective of this research is to examine the safety of use in toddlers by characterizing the absorption and distribution profile of a currently marketed fluoride varnish. We measured urinary fluoride for 5 hours after application of fluoride varnish to teeth in 6 toddlers aged 12 to 15 months. Baseline levels were measured on a separate day. The urine was extracted from disposable diapers, measured by rapid diffusion, and extrapolated to plasma levels. The mean estimated plasma fluoride concentration was 13 μg/L (SD, 9 μg/L) during the baseline visit and 21 μg/L (SD, 8 μg/L) during the 5 hours after treatment. Mean estimated peak plasma fluoride after treatment was 57 μg/L (SD, 22 μg/L), and 20 μg/kg (SD, 4 μg/L) was retained on average. Retained fluoride was 253 times lower than the acute toxic dose of 5 mg/kg. Mean plasma fluoride after placement of varnish was within an SD of control levels. Occasional application of fluoride varnish following American Academy of Pediatrics guidance is safe for toddlers.

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