Silver Diamine Fluoride

Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) is a conservative treatment to help stop tooth decay without the need of local anesthetic, drilling, or filling. SDF is used to arrest dental caries and reduce tooth sensitivity. It is not always a definitive treatment; but can buy time until a child is old enough or cooperative enough to undergo treatment. In such a case, a young child can avoid needing treatment under general anesthesia. Our office uses SDF in select cases for young children with cavities who may not be able to sit well in the dental chair for treatment. It is also an option for incipient lesions (very small cavities) on older patients if a caregiver or child would rather attempt to arrest the areas of concern instead of “monitor” them for growth.

Here are some benefits of receiving Silver Diamine Fluoride: 

  • SDF can help stop tooth decay
  • SDF can help relieve tooth sensitivity
  • SDF can help buy time for patients who are very young, fearful, or have special needs that may otherwise require sedation for dental treatment 

Risks related to SDF include:

  • The affected area will stain black permanently. Healthy tooth structure will not stain black. Stained tooth structure can be replaced with a filling or a crown in the future
  • If SDF is accidently placed on the skin or gums, a brown or white stain will appear that is not harmful and will disappear in one to two weeks. Scrubbing the areas with hydrogen peroxide can help speed up the process of it disappearing
  • You may notice a metallic taste that will go away quickly
  • There is a risk that the SDF application will not stop the tooth decay 
  • If the tooth decay is not arrested, the decay will progress. In that case, the tooth will require further treatment which could entail repeat application of SDF, a filling or a crown, root canal/pulp treatment, or extraction

Contraindications to SDF include: 

  • allergy to silver
  • a history or current painful sores or raw areas on the gums (ulcerative gingivitis) or anywhere in the mouth (stomatitis) 

SDF may need to be applied several times to be affective, the number of times and frequency will be discussed at your child’s dental visit