Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) is an antimicrobial liquid that can be used to treat cavities in a fast, comfortable and non-invasive manner. SDF is applied with a small brush and an absorbent floss and does not require numbing or drilling. It has the ability to kill bacteria and prevent cavities from growing and spreading. In some patients with active cavities, SDF from our Tinton Falls practice can be used as an alternative to fillings.
Silver nitrate has been successfully used by dentists since the 1800’s.
Dr. Kearns or Dr. Jocelyn will begin by determining that your child is a good candidate for SDF treatment. SDF is usually a good option for very young children or children with special needs as it helps to stabilize the cavity until the child is older and can receive treatment without sedation.
After your child is approved for SDF treatment, your dentist will clean the tooth or teeth to be treated, dry the teeth with air, and then apply the silver diamine fluoride. It will be left in place for about a minute and then wiped away. It is as simple as that! No numbing or drilling needed.
SDF is not always a permanent solution. For best results, it is important to maintain good oral hygiene habits at home and return for check-up visits so your dentist can closely monitor the areas to determine if a reapplication of SDF or additional treatment is needed.
Because silver diamine fluoride will simply be painted onto the tooth or teeth being treated, this is a completely non-invasive treatment. It only takes a small amount of the silver diamine fluoride liquid to treat several teeth. In fact, it is so concentrated that one drop of SDF can treat up to 5 teeth. Your child will not have to sit with a large amount of fluid in their mouth, making it a convenient and comfortable treatment, even for wiggly little ones.
SDF is helpful for some children who may have a sensitivity to certain types of sedation. By postponing treatment until they are older, it may be possible for your child to avoid the need to be sedated during a dental filling procedure, or avoid the filling procedure altogether.
It is important to bring your child in for dental care from an early age to ensure their teeth are healthy and to set them up for long term dental success. However, if those early dental visits are filled with intimidating restorative procedures, your child may end up developing dental anxiety. To avoid this, our Tinton Falls team puts an emphasis on creating positive dental experiences early on. By using silver diamine fluoride, which is a painless, easy treatment, we can slowly build trust with your child and show them that coming to the dentist doesn't have to be painful or scary.
The two active ingredients in SDF are silver and fluoride. The silver effectively kills the bacteria present in the cavities. Silver ions are small enough to penetrate the weak parts of the tooth and work to plug up the microscopic holes in the enamel or dentin surface. Since fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral, it is completely safe and actually helps to improve your child’s oral health. It does this by “remineralizing” and strengthening tooth enamel that has been affected by minor decay. Together silver and fluoride work to safely keep your child's tooth healthy.
SDF can prevent cavity growth with a success rate of up to 80% when applied biannually.
While some insurance policies are begging to cover silver diamine fluoride, many still do not. It is important to check with your provider to ensure you understand your dental insurance benefits and coverage before proceeding with treatment. Oftentimes, SDF can be a more cost-effective treatment than many other restorative procedures, so even if it is not covered by your dental insurance plan, it may be a good idea to invest in your child’s teeth upfront in order to avoid more costly procedures down the line.
With regular reapplications and proper at-home oral care, it may be possible for your child to avoid additional treatment. When SDF is used on baby teeth in older children, the goal is to halt the progression of the tooth decay until the baby tooth can fall out naturally. This is usually the case, but sometimes if a cavity is too deep or too far advanced, SDF may not be enough.
If SDF is being used on an adult tooth, it is likely that it is just being used as a preventive measure. SDF can be used on "almost cavities" to prevent them from turning into a cavity that has to be treated with a dental filling.
No, SDF treatment does not hurt. Since silver diamine fluoride requires no removal of the enamel, it is not painful. If any of the SDF liquid comes in contact with the gums, tongue, or lips your child may experience a slight tingling sensation. However, when SDF is carefully applied by an experienced pediatric dentist, this is unlikely. At our Tinton Falls office, we use small brushes to ensure precise application.
By painting SDF onto your child’s tooth, your doctor can effectively stop the progression of tooth decay. SDF does this by simultaneously killing bacteria and remineralizing the tooth. The minerals in the SDF solution (silver and fluoride) penetrate the tooth structure and “fill in” the gaps where the tooth enamel has been eaten away by plaque and tartar.
SDF can be an effective long term solution for treating teeth that have soft spots or the beginning stages of a cavity. If a tooth has an open cavity or more severe tooth decay, SDF may help prevent the cavity from getting worse. Teeth with larger cavities usually need to be filled sometime after SDF treatment to restore the shape and structure of the tooth, which SDF cannot do.
SDF is FDA approved for providing relief from tooth sensitivity.