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      Free fluoride varnish for kids

      "Varnish! Michigan-Babies Too!" is a community health program that provides free fluoride varnish treatments to infants and toddlers. The Marquette County Health Department joined this program in November.

      It's an in-and-out trip that goes a long way. Fluoride varnish is a protective coating that goes on teeth to help prevent cavities for three to four months. The Marquette County Health Department offers free fluoride varnish to children three years old and younger that are in the Women, Infants, Children and Maternal Infant Health Programs. The fluoride varnish is a light, gooey substance that is applied using a small brush. It's an easy process and takes no time at all. "The actual painting of the fluoride varnish only takes about a minute, if that. If they have just a couple teeth, it's just a few seconds," said Rebecca Maino, registered dental hygienist and health educator at the Marquette County Health Department.

      Linda Marshall and her two-and-a-half-year-old son, Archer, visit for fluoride treatment about twice a year.

      "Fluoride is important to keep his teeth strong as they're growing. We don't have to worry so much about the decay. We don't have fluoride in our water at home, so it's important for him to get the fluoride," said Marshall.

      The fluoride varnish treatment is actually only a small part of what the program is about. Dentists hope that by encouraging small children to come in to the office at a young age that they will build relationships early in life. It also gives the dental hygienist the opportunity to educate parents with young children on how to approach teaching proper oral hygiene.

      "Start brushing your children's teeth early. Start forming those good habits, and if you're doing good oral hygiene habits at home, your children will follow," Maino said.

      "She showed me how to actually sit with Archer and to brush his teeth, how to do it, so it's real effective," Maino said.

      The fluoride varnish treatment should never be used as a substitute for regular dental care. For information on how you and your child can join WIC and MIHP, visit this website: