While drilling and filling remain the standard treatment for cavities in both adults and children, young children now have another choice for managing tooth decay. Many dental offices, including NOVA Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, now have access to a simple liquid treatment that can stop and prevent cavities in baby teeth.
Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) is a new treatment that stops tooth decay in its tracks. And while it’s not a substitute for removing and filling cavities, it can keep decay at bay until baby teeth fall out. For many families, SDF is a faster and less expensive alternative to traditional treatment. In this post, we’ll explore the ins and outs of SDF, explaining what it is, how it works, and if it is the right choice for your child.
What Is Silver Diamine Fluoride?
Silver Diamine Fluoride is a colorless liquid that kills the bacteria that cause decay. Silver has been used for decades to treat burns and other conditions because of its bacteria-killing properties. The antimicrobial properties of silver, along with the restorative/protective properties of fluoride, allow this treatment to stop cavities from growing while preventing further tooth decay in the affected areas.
SDF has been used in countries such as China, Japan, and New Zealand for decades, and was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the United States in 2014. While the product was initially approved to treat tooth sensitivity in adults, dentists discovered its usefulness as an anti-cavity treatment in pediatric patients.
Is Silver Diamine Fluoride Safe?
SDF has proven safe and effective in decades of use around the globe, and careful review of its use in Japan shows no adverse reactions.
The biggest concern about SDF is aesthetic: the treatment turns the area affected by cavities black and can also cause mild temporary staining to skin or gums. However, many parents find brief discoloration a much better alternative to the cost and time involved in getting a traditional filling.
Who Can Benefit From Silver Diamine Fluoride?
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), SDF works best for cavity control and management. It’s not as long term of a solution as fillings, but it is an excellent option for temporary cavity control in children. SDF is an increasingly useful and appealing option for parents when treatment is needed on baby teeth that will eventually fall out.
According to a study by University of Florida researchers, some of the best candidates for SDF include:
- Patients at higher risk for cavities because of genetic predisposition
- Patients whose behavioral challenges make other dental treatments less than optimal
- Patients with cavities that are hard to treat or too many to treat at one visit
- Special needs patients
Is Silver Diamine Fluoride Right For My Child?
SDF is relatively inexpensive and easy for dentists to apply. With a simple treatment twice a year, SDF can prevent cavities while waiting for baby teeth to fall out. For many families, the simplicity of the treatment overrides any esthetic concerns.
Many of our patients will continue to need a more traditional approach to cavity care that includes removing decay and filling the affected tooth. But for plenty of our young patients, SDF is the ideal solution on an interim basis. After all, there is a reason Silver Diamine Fluoride has been called a “silver fluoride bullet” by the National Institutes of Health.
Silver Diamine Fluoride At NOVA Pediatric Dentistry
Our team of pediatric dentists is having great success in stopping cavities with Silver Diamine Fluoride. If your child has multiple cavities in his baby teeth, or if your child has special needs or behavioral issues that make sitting still for a filling challenging, we encourage you to talk with our dentists about this helpful new treatment.