Caries Risk Assessment, Fluoride Varnish, and Counseling


This course focuses on caries prevention offering a brief review of Early Childhood Caries (ECC) and addressing how the use of fluoride is part of a comprehensive approach to child oral health. Participants will learn the benefits, appropriate safety precautions, and dosing for fluoride, as well as how to apply fluoride varnish and provide follow-up care.

Educational Objectives for the Caries Risk Assessment, Fluoride Varnish and Counseling Course:

  • Review the prevalence, etiology, and consequences of early childhood caries (ECC)
  • Perform an oral examination on small children
  • Use a Caries Risk Assessment Tool to:
    • Identify specific risk factors and protective factors
    • Document clinical findings
    • Provide appropriate anticipatory guidance and timely dental referrals
  • Discuss the effects, sources, and benefits of fluoride
    • Describe the benefits and indications for fluoride varnish
    • Demonstrate the application of fluoride varnish
    • Describe strategies for an effective office-based varnish program
  • Advise families on strategies to prevent caries

Important note: If you have completed a Smiles for Life course and need to print another copy of the certificate, log in to your account and navigate to the My Account page in the upper right corner.

If you are already logged in, scroll down to the Course Content and select a topic to begin this course. If you are not logged in, select the green Register for Courses link above. You can navigate through the course by pressing the "Next Page" and "Previous Page" buttons, or select each page on the left sidebar menu. The "Mark Complete" button will also automatically advance the page. If you are only completing a few pages at  a time, you may utilize the "Mark Complete" feature at the bottom to track your progress in each course. It is not necessary to mark each page to complete the course or to be eligible to take the assessment or print your certificate.  

This course takes approximately one hour to complete. Each clinical case takes about 10 minutes.


All authors involved in producing the content of this course have indicated they have no relevant financial relationships to disclose.

Course Steering Committee Authors

  • Michelle Dalal, M.D.

Dental Consultant

  • Rocio Quinonez, D.M.D., M.S., M.P.H.

Smiles for Life Editor

  • Melinda Clark, M.D.

The images in this course are not to be reproduced/downloaded for purposes other than personal use. Republication, retransmission, reproduction or other use of the Licensed Material is prohibited.

Last Modified:
October, 2021


Caries Risk Assessment, Fluoride Varnish and Counseling course is also available in a 30 minute video, covering the same material as the online course. If you prefer to view this course as a video with faculty voice-over, please click the link below. To print a certificate of completion for continuing education credit after watching the video, you must register for the course, complete the post-test questions, a brief evaluation, and then print or save your personalized certificate of completion.

The YouTube version can be accessed here:

Course Content

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