What Is Silver Diamine Fluoride?
Silver diamine fluoride (SDF) is an FDA-approved liquid that is applied directly to the teeth to prevent dental caries (cavities) from growing and spreading to other teeth. Although the preferred way to handle cavities is to remove the decay and restore the tooth with a filling or other restoration, SDF provides a much less invasive alternative. Having more than one option is especially beneficial when the caries are present in the baby teeth of children.
While SDF doesn’t entirely replace the need for restoration of the decayed tooth, it does halt the decay in its tracks.
How Does Silver Diamine Fluoride Work?
SDF is composed of two main ingredients – silver and fluoride. Silver’s primary function is as an antimicrobial agent that stops decay. Additionally, it strengthens the dentin, which is the tooth’s underlying protective layer. Fluoride is the powerhouse that stops decay and also prevents more from developing.
When Is Silver Diamine Fluoride Recommended?
While there is a wide range of situations that may call for SDF, the most common include:
- Severe and excessive decay in primary (“baby”) teeth
- Children with multiple caries that cannot all be treated in one visit
- Young children who have a difficult time cooperating for other treatments like fillings
- Special needs patients
What Are the Benefits of Silver Diamine Fluoride?
As mentioned above, there are several instances when SDF may be the best choice for a patient, especially as a means to stop decay while more thorough restorations are completed over time. As such, the benefits of SDF include:
- Quick treatment
- Relieves tooth sensitivity
- Effective cavity protection
- Stops tooth decay
What to Expect at the Appointment
When your child comes to see us at Michigan City Dental, we will begin their appointment by brushing and rinsing their teeth without toothpaste. After this, their teeth will be dried and cleaned of debris, such as plaque. Once the teeth are clean, we will apply the SDF directly to the affected tooth or teeth with a microbrush. This solution will then be allowed to cure for two minutes. Afterward, we recommend that patients do not eat or drink anything for at least an hour to allow it to continue to cure.
What Are the Risks Associated with Silver Diamine Fluoride?
While risks are minor, it is important to consider the pros and cons of SDF before deciding on treatment. Your dentist will go over all the benefits and risks and answer any questions you may have. Risks include, but are not limited to:
- Discoloration of the decayed area of the tooth. SDF will cause decay to stain black; however, the healthy tooth structure will be unaffected.
- Any contact SDF makes with skin or gums will result in a temporary brown or white stain. It will fade within three weeks, but it cannot be washed off.
- SDF may result in a temporary metallic taste in the mouth, but it quickly subsides.
- While SDF has been proven very effective at stopping and preventing decay, it is not entirely fail-proof, and no guarantee of success is granted or implied. If the decay is not stopped, further treatment may be necessary, such as fillings, root canal therapy, or extraction.
If you notice any other effects after treatment with SDF, please contact our office, and we will be happy to answer any questions you have.
Although SDF is considered safe and is FDA-approved, some people should not be treated with it. These patients include those with:
- Silver allergies
- Painful sores or raw gum areas caused by conditions such as ulcerative gingivitis or stomatitis
If you have questions about Silver Diamine Fluoride treatment or to schedule an appointment, contact our office today at (219) 874-7224.