What To Know About Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF)

SDF has been used extensively around the world for decades, although it only received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2014. The FDA actually approved SDF for use in the treatment of tooth sensitivity. Interestingly though, further studies demonstrated that SDF is highly effective at stopping cavities when combined with improvements in their diet (cut out the sugar!) and oral hygiene (brush and floss daily!). 

How Does SDF Work?

SDF’s ability to slow down or stop dental decay comes from its two main ingredients. Silver’s antibacterial properties have been known for centuries, and safety profile makes it ideal for use in humans. Fluoride significantly increases the rate at which tooth enamel can be repaired by saliva, and at the same time increases the enamel’s resistance to future decay due to acids. Fluoride has antimicrobial properties as well.

The uses of silver fluoride include stopping tooth decay from progressing and keeping the affected teeth stable until a dentist determines if further action is necessary to preserve the health of the teeth. SDF helps harden the tooth structure softened by decay.

When and Why Do Dentists Recommend SDF?

There are several situations in which SDF treatment is a good option. First and foremost, it is effective at stopping and preventing tooth decay when patients commit to making lifestyle changes. The bonus is that compared to other treatment options such as filling a cavity,  SDF can be a more affordable option depending on budget, insurance coverage, and access to care. (Side note: while we always consider the specific risks and benefits specific to each treatment plan that we design in prioritizing the well-being of the child’s well-being, we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that finances can be a factor when choosing the best path forward for many of our patient families.) 

The biggest drawback to SDF we see in our office is that it stains the treated teeth black, which for some people, is not aesthetically pleasing. For children who still have their primary or baby teeth though, the aesthetic issue of staining is outweighed by the benefits of treating and preventing toothaches in the future. This form of treatment is growing in popularity as a pediatric dental treatment.

Talk With Your Pediatric Dentist About SDF

The only way to determine whether silver diamine fluoride treatment is right for your child is to ask your pediatric dentist about it. Not every dental practice offers this form of treatment, and it’s important to choose a dental team that’s trained and knowledgeable about this relatively new solution.

We invite you to learn more about what sets Carolina Pediatric Dentistry apart by requesting an appointment. We are happy to answer any and all questions you have about silver diamine fluoride and other pediatric dental treatments. 


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