The California Dental Association reports that various “clinical studies unanimously confirm better caries arrest and/or prevention by silver diamine fluoride over control or other materials”.
What is Silver Diamine Fluoride?
Silver Diamine Fluoride is an FDA-approved antibiotic liquid clinically applied to control active dental caries and prevent further progression of disease. While the ideal way to treat teeth with decay is by removing the decay and placing a restoration, this alternative treatment allows us to stop decay with noninvasive methods, particularly with young children that have baby teeth.
Treatment with Silver Diamine Flouride will not eliminate the need for restorative dentistry to repair function or aesthetics, but has been effective at prevention of further decay. Dental restorations may include but are not limited to dental fillings, root canal therapy and or crowns.
How does Silver Diamine Fluoride work?
Silver Diamine Fluoride is composed of two primary components: silver and fluoride. Silver acts as an anti-microbial agent that simultaneously strengthens the underlying protective layer of your teeth called dentin. Fluoride is the active ingredient that puts a stop to tooth decay and helps prevent additional decay from appearing.
During your or your child’s visit, your dentist will brush and rinse their teeth without paste to prepare for the treatment. Your teeth or your child’s teeth will then be dried and any debris, such as plaque, will be removed. SDF is applied to the affected teeth with a microbrush and the solution is allowed to cure on the tooth for two minutes. Once the tooth has been treated, we advise patients not to eat or drink or at least an hour to allow it to cure.
When is Silver Diamine Fluoride recommended?
There are several situations in which it may be recommend. Those include, but are not limited to the following:
Children who may have excessive decay (severe early childhood caries)
Young children who have difficulty cooperating for treatment
Special needs patients
Children with carious lesions that may not all be treated in one visit
Adults with large carious lesions close to the nerve or pulp.
Adults with many carious lesions that will not or cannot be treated in a timely manner
What are the benefits?
Silver Diamine Fluoride is a particularly effective for adults and children. It can be used to stop cavities from progressing in adult teeth with deep and large cavities, or for adults who has many teeth that need treatment which cannot be treated in a timely manner. SDF is also a very effective fluoride treatment for kids whose cavities cannot otherwise be treated at one time. We may also recommend Silver Diamine Fluoride for children with disabilities or those who are unable to sit for longer cavity treatments. Benefits to this technique:
- Quick treatment time
- Effective cavity prevention
- May stop tooth decay
- Relieves tooth sensitivity
Are there risks associated with Silver Diamine Fluoride?
There are some risks associated with it, which include, but are not limited to the following:
- Any decayed areas will stain BLACK. Healthy tooth structure will not stain. Stained tooth structures can be replaced with a filling or crown. SDF may discolor dental fillings and crowns.
- If Silver Diamine Flouride is applied to skin or gums, a harmless temporary brown or white stain may appear on the area. The stain will disappear in one to three weeks. It cannot be washed off.
- The patient may notice a metallic taste after an application. This will go away rapidly.
- Every reasonable effort will be made to ensure the success of the treatment. There is a risk that the procedure will not stop the decay, and no guarantee of success is granted or implied. If the tooth decay is not arrested, the decay will progress. In that case the tooth will require further dental treatment such as further Silver Diamine Fluoride application, dental fillings, root canal therapy, or extraction.
These side effects may not include all of the possible situations reported by the manufacturer. If you notice other effects, please contact your Kids Care Dental and Orthodontics office.
You should not be treated with Silver Diamine Fluoride if:
- You are allergic to silver
- There are painful sores or raw areas on your gums (i.e. ulcerative gingivitis) or anywhere in your mouth (i.e. stomatitis)
What are the alternatives?
Some alternatives include, but are not limited to:
- No treatment, which may lead to an increase in symptom severity as well as a worsening of the tooth structures and cosmetic appearance.
- Depending on the extent and location of the tooth decay, other options may include placement of fluoride varnish, a filling, crown, extraction or referral for advanced treatment modalities such as a surgery center.
Silver Diamine Fluoride is a safe, effective, and can be used as children’s fluoride treatment that can help your child maintain a healthy smile for life.