Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) Stops Tooth Decay
Imagine treating your child’s cavity without subjecting them to the dental drill. This dream can be a reality with silver diamine fluoride (SDF). SDF has been used to treat and prevent cavities painlessly in Japan and the UK for decades, and now this exciting dental treatment has been FDA approved in the US. How does it work? Whom is it right for? What are the downsides? Keep reading to find out!
What is SDF exactly?
SDF is a colorless, microbial liquid that contains two active ingredients: silver particles and fluoride. This liquid gets painted directly on the decay on a tooth. The SDF then goes to work to stop the decay from progressing.
How does SDF work?
The silver and fluoride in SDF each play an important role in arresting cavities. The silver kills the bacteria responsible for tooth decay. It also penetrates and fills any microscopic holes present in the tooth’s outer layer (the enamel). The fluoride then helps to re-mineralize these holes or weak spots in the tooth. In other words, SDF stops the decay from progressing and helps strengthen the tooth.
What are the benefits to SDF?
There are three main benefits to using SDF to treat your child’s cavities.
1. SDF application is quick and painless.
SDF treatment is non-invasive. The liquid is simply painted onto the decay. Thus, no needles are needed to numb the area first. Likewise, no drilling takes place. Our dental team will ensure the tooth is completely clean and dry and then apply the SDF. That’s it! We’ll repeat the treatment one more time, about one month after the initial application, for the best results. As a result, SDF treatment is especially popular with parents whose children have a developmental or behavioral needs that make longer, more involved dental treatments difficult.
2. SDF treatment is highly effective.
Research shows that 80% of cavities can be successfully arrested (stopped) with two applications of SDF. Furthermore, SDF has been proven to help prevent recurrent decay.
3. SDF treatment is affordable.
When compared to the cost of the traditional drill-and-fill method of treating a cavity, SDF is very affordable. Indeed, it often costs only about 1/5 of a traditional filling. More insurances are starting to cover it as well.
What are the downsides to SDF?
While the benefits of SDF are impressive, there is one esthetic drawback: SDF stains cavities brownish black. Some parents and patients, understandably, are concerned that this staining can make for an unattractive smile. Therefore, SDF may not be the right choice for cavities that are visible on front teeth. Some parents, though, still find SDF preferable to exposing a young child to anesthesia and drilling. Likewise, some parents feel the staining is acceptable when it’s a baby tooth involved, since it will eventually be replaced with a non-stained adult tooth. Dr. Laura, Dr. Rachel, and team can help you sort out if SDF treatment is the right option for you and your child.