Silver diamine fluoride, a dental cavity-fighting liquid for children, is a non-invasive antimicrobial topical dental treatment that halts cavity progression, as well as aids in the prevention of dental caries (cavities). Silver diamine fluoride has been used for decades in countries, such as Japan, Australia, China, and others, as an effective treatment for hypersensitivity and tooth decay treatment, and recently has been FDA-approved for use in the United States. Dr. Paul Rubin at Frisco Kid’s Dentistry provides this form of dental cavity-fighting treatment. Ask Dr. Rubin if SDF might be right for your child.
Silver diamine fluoride consists primarily of two components, silver and fluoride. Silver is the antimicrobial agent which:
- Kills cavity-causing bacteria
- Strengthens the dentin (the hard, bony tissue beneath the tooth’s enamel)
- Keeps new biofilm from forming on the tooth surface
Fluoride prevents tooth decay progression by promoting remineralization and strengthening tooth enamel.
The Silver Diamine Fluoride Treatment Process
Silver diamine fluoride can be used as a temporary alternative to restorative treatments, such as fillings. During SDF treatment, the patient’s teeth are brushed and rinsed, and the carious teeth are dried and cleared of debris and plaque. A drop of SDF is then brushed on to any affected teeth and allowed to dry for 2 minutes.
Any decay present will turn dark and the bacteria causing the tooth decay is destroyed. Healthy tooth structure does not become stained. Stained areas can be replaced later with a filling or dental crown if aesthetics become a concern. Patients can even eat or drink immediately after treatment!
SDF is especially beneficial for use on primary teeth which will be lost later or back teeth where the stain won’t be visible.
Benefits of using sodium diamine fluoride to treat cavities include:
- Painless: No injections or drilling required
- Fast: Treatment takes just a few minutes
- Temporarily halts decay by destroying bacteria
- Cost effective: One drop of SDF can treat several teeth, making it significantly less expensive than a filling
- Helps prevents future cavity development
- Non-invasive: Ideal for children who may be uncooperative
- Provides relief for tooth sensitivity
- Relieves pain from cavities
- Strengthens teeth
- Preserves primary teeth that may otherwise require removal
Use of silver diamine fluoride is reported to be up to 80-90% effective in temporarily halting cavity progression and in cavity prevention. Studies show that SDF treatment is most successful when applied twice per year. Research also indicates that annual application to active lesions prevents the spread of cavities to other teeth more effectively that fluoride varnish applied 4 times per year on all teeth.
Who Should Use Sodium Diamine Fluoride?
Sodium diamine fluoride can be used on patients of all ages, but is especially useful for pediatric patients who may otherwise require sedation dentistry in order to be treated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that almost 25% of children ages 2-5 have dental caries. Treatment of severe cavities in small children can entail treatment in ha ospital under general anesthesia. While SDF is not a definitive treatment, it is a useful stop gap procedure for anxious or special needs patients. Because SDF treatment is quick, painless, and effective, it can prevent the need for sedation and/or hospitalization.
Patients who are typically good candidates for sodium diamine fluoride include:
- Children with severe or excessive decay
- Children whose cavities would take several visits to treat traditionally
- Young children who tend to be less cooperative during dental treatment
- Children with special needs
Because restorative treatments can sometimes be frightening or even traumatic for young children, the use of sodium diamine fluoride is rapidly becoming the cavity treatment and prevention method of choice for many parents.
SDF should not be used if the patient:
- Is allergic to silver
- Has ulcerative gingivitis or any type of sores or raw areas in the mouth
- Has large holes in teeth which trap plaque or food
Sodium diamine fluoride treatment is considered extremely safe and effective with little adverse reactions reported. If you are interested in finding out if your child can benefit from SDF, contact Frisco Kids Dentistry for an appointment.