What is Silver Diamine Fluoride?
Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) is a clear liquid substance used in dentistry that is applied to teeth to protect them from cavities. SDF is composed of silver particles and a fluoride ion that contains ammonia, fluoride, and water.
SDF not only prevents cavities but can also stop them from becoming worse or spreading. They are most commonly used in children between the ages of 2-8 who are ineligible for other dental treatments such as fillings.
SDF offers 80% protection against cavities, is minimally invasive, and the treatment is performed very quickly with no pain. Children who experience significant dental anxiety or who have special needs may not be a good candidate for fillings because of the dental drilling that is involved, making SDF a good alternative for these patients.
Are you interested in Silver Diamine Fluoride for your child? Is your child unable to sit still for long periods, have dental anxiety, a low pain tolerance, or have special needs? SDF is minimally invasive, painless, fast, and doesn’t require any drilling! Contact us at Sprouting Smiles Pediatric Dentistry today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Wendy Yang.
How Does Silver Diamine Fluoride work?
The silver in the solution kills bacteria while the fluoride remineralizes and strengthens teeth. The tooth’s enamel and dentin become stronger and more durable, offering increased protection against cavities and tooth sensitivity. SDF is non-toxic and safe for use in children’s dentistry.
Benefits of Silver Diamond Fluoride
The biggest benefit of SDF is that it is an effective, safe, and viable alternative to dental drilling and fillings. Children who are unable to sit through filling appointments will benefit from this treatment, as it only needs to be done once a year and does not require the physical removal of cavities.
SDF is also very cost-effective, quick and easy to apply, minimally invasive, and can be reapplied to the back of the mouth within 2-4 weeks. There are no adverse health or side effects to SDF and the biggest risk is some staining of the tooth when it is applied to a cavity. However, this risk is relatively low and is only temporary since baby teeth will eventually fall out.
Are There Any Side Effects To Silver Diamond Fluoride?
While Silver Diamond Fluoride is considered extremely safe, there are some side effects associated with the treatment to be aware of. The most common side effect is discoloration of the tooth surface that it is applied to.
While it can also stain any other surface it comes into contact with like your gums, it is permanent in the teeth. This is why it is not usually recommended for use in permanent teeth. SDF can also cause gum irritation if the solution comes into contact with the gums. However, this is typically mild and only lasts for a few days.
Silver Diamond Fluoride can give off a metallic taste and in rare cases, cause pain in the teeth and gums. Generally speaking, SDF does not cause any serious side effects and contains less fluoride than a traditional fluoride varnish treatment.
However, we recommend you abstain from SDF treatment if you have an allergy to silver, mouth ulcers, advanced gum disease, or an extremely decayed tooth that has reached the dental pulp.
Is Silver Diamond Fluoride Only For Baby Teeth?
No, Silver Diamond Fluoride can be used to treat cavities in permanent teeth as well. However, it is most effective at preventing cavities and stopping the growth of small cavities that have not yet penetrated deeper into the tooth.
While they are perfectly suitable for use in permanent teeth as well, a common side effect of Silver Diamond Fluoride is blackening of the teeth which may deter older children and adults. When SDF is applied in primary teeth, it is a temporary discoloration because the tooth will fall out on its own to be replaced with a permanent tooth.
How Long Does Silver Diamond Fluoride Last?
SDF is a permanent treatment that prevents the growth of an already existing cavity. However, oftentimes SDF needs to be reassessed and reapplied to ensure that it is working. SDF can be reapplied every 3 to 12 months depending on the needs of each patient.
If we determine that there are no signs of growth in the cavity 6 months after the application and then 12 months after the application, it is considered successful. Sometimes SDF will not be effective because the decay has already progressed to the point that more invasive treatment is needed. This is why early treatment is important.
The Silver Diamine Fluoride Process
The process begins by cleaning the affected area. Then, cotton will be used to isolate the tooth and prevent saliva from contaminating the solution. Petroleum jelly is typically used so the solution doesn’t come into contact with the soft tissue inside of your mouth.
The tooth can then be dried with gauze or a vacuum that removes moisture from the tooth. Now the SDF can be applied by painting the solution onto the tooth with a micro brush and rubbing it into the tooth for about a minute.
The tooth is then air-dried, and an additional fluoride varnish may be applied over top if necessary. The process is then repeated on each tooth. A follow-up appointment may be made in 2-4 weeks to check how the SDF is working. If needed, it can be reapplied.
Is My Child A Good Candidate For Silver Diamond Fluoride?
Young children with baby teeth and recurring cavities are the ideal candidate for Silver Diamond Fluoride as well as those with small cavities between their molars. Applying SDF prevents the decay from worsening and spreading, which eliminates the need for more invasive treatment on teeth that will fall out soon.
Because SDF eliminates the need for drills and anesthetic, this treatment is ideal for patients who have dental anxiety, special needs, and children who are more prone to developing cavities.